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Broncos Camp Observations: After slow start, Denver's offense shows ability to rebound

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The early moments of Monday's practice largely did not go in the Broncos' offense's favor.

On the second play of practice — Denver's first with shoulder pads — the Broncos were whistled for a false start. A few plays later, after a couple of incompletions, the offense was hit with another.

After a third penalty, Russell Wilson gathered his teammates together.

"I was upset because it hadn't been going very well, and he felt that so he brought them up, which is great," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said after practice. "[He was] trying to get those guys back on track. That's going to happen in a game. It's about how they respond."

And while the offense's response wasn't immediate, Wilson and Co. did turn things around. In a red-zone period later in practice, Wilson dropped a pass in to Courtland Sutton in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown with Pat Surtain II in coverage. A play later, Wilson found Jerry Jeudy for a score, which came in part because of an apparent miscommunication in the secondary.

"We came back in the red zone and did a couple good things," Hackett said. "You've just got to continually battle. It doesn't matter what the situation is. Just keep battling."

Wilson, in particular, seemed to help his teammates work through the earlier errors. During one special teams period, Wilson and Sutton worked for about 10 minutes on a pair of routes that they'd been unable to connect on during the previous period. The extra work, ideally, will help them when they return to the respective plays and situations. Perhaps more importantly, it showed the team's stars are unwilling to simply write the practice off.

"The name of the game is crazy things go back and forth all the time," Hackett said. "Long touchdown — how are you going to respond? Interception — how are you going to respond? You need those moments. Guys jumping offsides, lack of focus — hopefully they can take from this day and learn why it happened. Why weren't they focused? Why weren't they focused as a group? I know they work so hard. I know they know it. I know they don't want it to be that way. But the idea is to learn from that moment so that once you're out on the field and crowd is screaming, it doesn't happen again or we can bounce back quickly."


The offense's early struggled came in no small part because of Surtain's play.

He broke up a pair of passes from Wilson to Sutton during the team's first 11-on-11 period, including a play where Kareem Jackson nearly intercepted the deflected pass.

Through the first five days of training camp, no Bronco has seemingly turned in a better performance than Surtain. The former ninth-overall pick hasn't yet recorded an interception, but he has a handful of pass breakups to his name.

The Broncos' offense, though, wasn't shut out against the impressive cornerback. Wilson fired a dart to Jerry Jeudy to pick up a first down with Surtain in tight coverage, and Sutton later caught Wilson's pass in the end zone to get on the board against Surtain.

The battle between Surtain and Sutton — a matchup of one of the best defensive rookies in 2021 and a 2019 Pro Bowler — should make both players better for the season. Through five days, it's also been incredibly fun to watch.


… Outside linebacker Baron Browning continues to show why the Broncos moved him from inside linebacker to the edge, as he had several strong rushes during Monday's practice.

… With shoulder pads on, Javonte Williams was among the running backs to show his power. Early in practice, he broke through the line and would've had at least a 10-yard gain under game conditions.

… Caden Sterns continued to show why he is a top option as a reserve safety, as he broke up a pass while working against the second-team offense.

… Tight end Eric Tomlinson made one of the better catches of the day on an out route, as he stabbed at a pass with one hand and was able to bobble the ball before securing the throw.

… Linebacker Josey Jewell made perhaps the most athletic play of the day when he dropped back into coverage and dove backwards to break up a pass.

… Defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones broke through the line and likely would have had a sack under game conditions early in practice.

… In his return to practice, wide receiver KJ Hamler made a diving catch in the red zone while running routes on air.

… Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich returned to individual drills for the first time but remained out of team drills.

… Central Florida rookie receiver Brandon Johnson made a nice catch in the end zone for a touchdown during red-zone work.

… Quarterback Josh Johnson lofted a pass to Montrell Washington along the sideline near the end of practice, and the rookie wide receiver made a great play to get both feet in-bounds after securing the catch.

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