ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Zach Allen took a step forward in 2022.
In his final season in Arizona, he posted a career-high 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits.
If Tuesday's training camp practice was any indication, he may be even better in 2023.
Allen was among the standouts during Denver's second padded practice, as he single-handedly disrupted an offensive series. On one third-down, Allen got a hand up to bat a pass down. Two plays later, he quickly broke through the line and would've likely had a sack under game conditions.
"He's a really good technician," Head Coach Sean Payton said after practice. "The one thing about him, he's always going to be fitting the right gap. He's really smart. He's a high-effort and energy player. He does a good job of getting an edge and getting on the lineman's edge. We're pleased with what we've seen, but again, it's early."
Allen has made several plays throughout the course of training camp, but Tuesday's session may have been the biggest sign yet of the disruptive player he could be in 2023.
'I HAVE BEEN PLEASED WITH HIS PROGRESS'
Quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense's best play may have come late in practice, as Wilson found Courtland Sutton deep down the sideline. Sutton secured the catch over Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons, who were in tight pursuit.
Wilson also found Jerry Jeudy for a first down during a third-down period.
The offensive performance was not perfect, but Payton said he's pleased with how Wilson has advanced during training camp.
"It's hard because there were a lot of other factors a year ago," Payton said of how Wilson's performance compares to last year's film. "We are really focused on what he is doing within the offense. Obviously, he is moving around well, his weight is down, he is in really good shape and he's working really hard. There are a lot of nuances still we are working through. There were some good things in the running game today. Each day, you kind of look at the film and you start again with the corrections. I have been pleased with his progress and where he is at dating back to the offseason and to where we are now into our first full week."
The Broncos spent time in practice on the running game during a 9-on-7 drill and also held 1-on-1's between receivers and cornerbacks.
"You will see a lot of it in this camp," Payton said. "It's just something that I am familiar with."
Among the highlights from the action:
… Inside linebacker Alex Singleton was in the backfield on two early 9-on-7 plays, and he would've recorded at least one tackle for loss.
… Jeudy beat his defender on a double move during 1-on-1's, and Wilson found him for a deep gain.
… Wide receiver Michael Bandy made a diving catch during 1-on-1's, while Taylor Grimes caught a pass of his own over the outstretched arms of a defender.
… The reserve offensive line groups got a good push during 9-on-7 work.
… Rookie PJ Mustipher broke into the backfield on one play, and running back Tyler Badie showed a nice burst during a different snap.
… Justin Simmons continued to be around the ball, as he undercut a throw intended for Courtland Sutton for an interception during 11-on-11 work. He may have scored a touchdown under game conditions.
… Quarterback Ben DiNucci connected with wide receiver Montrell Washington for the longest play of training camp, as DiNucci launched the ball deep downfield. The ball traveled perhaps 40-to-50 yards through the air and would have been about a 70-yard touchdown.
… Outside linebacker Jonathan Cooper recorded a tackle for loss in 11-on-11 work and also came hard off the edge during another period.
… Cornerback Faion Hicks, who had an interception during an earlier practice, recorded a pass breakup during 9-on-7 work and a potential sack during 11-on-11 work.
… Tight end Nate Adkins delivered a series of punishing blocks across a couple of different periods.
… DiNucci also showed off his wheels, as he scrambled for a couple of first downs in team work.
… During a special teams drill, rookie JL Skinner showed strong and physical coverage ability.