ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos continued their initial stretch of training camp practices, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett dialed down the tempo on Friday.
During the team's third practice of camp, the Broncos worked at a jog-through pace — perhaps 60 to 70 percent of their normal tempo — during a series of team periods.
That didn't make the session any less important for the Broncos, and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett used it as a sort of test for his team. After practice, it was clear the Broncos passed the evaluation.
"To get through this entire season, you have to learn how to practice with that jog-through mentality," Hackett said. "We wanted a little bit more [pace] than our typical walk[throughs] at night. So this was truly a test. We've never done that before with the helmets on. … I'm unbelievably impressed with how locked in they were. We didn't have many mental errors at all, and the guys were able to communicate and talk, which is what you're trying to create in that environment. [After] two days [and] with the conditioning test, [I] want to make sure they're ready to rock and roll tomorrow."
Hackett said he'll use the same jog-through philosophy throughout training camp as he tries to keep his players fresh. After two days of hard work, the team will ease up physically — but not mentally — on the third day. Hackett said he learned the approach, which is intended to minimize injuries, from his three years in Green Bay.
"Three days [in a row] is where all kinds of bad stuff happens," Hackett said. "I've acknowledged that after all my years, and then all of a sudden you see [injuries] happen, so you want to be sure you can get them fresh so that you can go back real hard on that fourth day. So that's what we'll do kind of continuing on as we move forward. We'll just make sure that we go nice [and] hard a couple days and always have a little refresher to get their legs back."
In the jog-through setting, the Broncos may have actually gotten more work done on the field. Hackett said the Broncos were able to run through "way more" plays during Friday's practice.
"The last period, that's probably the most reps we've gotten since we've been out here," Hackett said. "That's where you kind of give and take. There's so many things you want to cover, and this game is so mental that everybody talks about the physical attributes people have and the amazing plays that they make, but nobody talks about their amazing intelligence. This is the ability to just grow that more and more, so that's why we love to do that."
After Friday's session, the Broncos will ramp things back up on Saturday before Sunday's off day.
"It's go time," Hackett said. "We're still going to be protecting the team and making sure we're doing the right stuff, but we're going to get a good one [in] tomorrow."
Despite the Broncos' pace, it was evident that the team's tight ends were a major factor on Friday.
During red-zone work, Russell Wilson found Eric Tomlinson for a touchdown and later hit Albert Okwuegbunam for another score. Eric Saubert has also been a consistent target for Wilson during the early days of training camp.
"When you have a bunch of good tight ends that can do a lot of different things, it makes you very, very multiple," Hackett said. "I think that's the fun thing."
Hackett referenced the success the Patriots had with two tight ends in the early 2010s, and he also noted how the 49ers use fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
"It's really about having multiple kinds of players that can do a lot of different things," Hackett said. "So it just kind of creates some unique characteristics to your offense."
DAILY IMPROVEMENT FOR JEUDY
Even at a jog-through pace, Jerry Jeudy's connection with Wilson is evident. He caught a touchdown pass from Wilson early in a team period, and he said after practice that he would have scored on the play in a full-speed session, too.
Hackett noted that Jeudy ran the same route on Thursday, and he saw the receiver's route improve from one practice to the next.
"He was able to take that coaching from Day 1 to Day 2," Hackett said, "and I think that's always what you're looking for, for all the players."