ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the closing minutes of the Broncos' first open training camp practice, Denver's secondary capped a big day in style.
In an 11-on-11 period, safety Justin Simmons leapt to deflect a deep pass intended for Greg Dulcich, and Caden Sterns dove to secure the interception. It was an acrobatic play by the third-year safety, who will look to take the next step in his career in 2022.
"Yeah, you have the moments," Head Coach Sean Payton said Friday. "He's certainly grasping what we're doing defensively. There's less change defensively, structurally. There's some things that are new. Offensively, it's completely different. I think he's doing well. I think he's doing well. I think he's got good instincts, and we'll just keep progressing with him."
Sterns, who notched a pair of interceptions against the Colts last season, was just one of the players in the secondary who made plays on Friday.
Damarri Mathis started the first 7-on-7 period with a strong pass breakup, and rookie third-round pick Riley Moss added another a few minutes later.
RUSS TAKES OFF
Quarterback Russell Wilson made some nice throws during Friday's practice, but his best moments may have come on the ground.
Wilson used his legs to take off down the field on a couple of occasions, including one play where he climbed in the pocket and escaped for what could have been a long run in game-like conditions.
"You want to play it like a game," Payton said of Wilson's scrambles. "That's what we are trying to simulate. It's hard to practice the spontaneous moments that take place in a game. If you break down a whole game, two-thirds of it happens in the pocket the way it's supposed to, and a third of it, there is a movement adjustment, there is pressure and there are all sorts of things that can take place. I'm comfortable when I see him climbing [the pocket] and taking off because one of those plays is like a 30-yard gain. How else do you practice that? The same way with the scramble drill when we are out of the pocket. You just begin working on that all of the time. I think it's one of the things he does well in the framework of a play. When something breaks down and he flushes, a lot of the time good things happen. You have to practice that and get everyone on the same page when it happens."
Wilson ran sparingly in 2022, but he smiled when asked if people would see him scramble more moving forward.
"I'm trying to get moving for you," Wilson said. "It's going to be a great year. It's going to be a great year."
Wilson added that he feels "better than ever" and feels strong and fast.
… Mike McGlinchey (personal matter) did not practice for the second consecutive day, while safety Kareem Jackson received a vet day. Garett Bolles also did not participate in team drills, which Payton confirmed was part of the team's management plan.
… Zach Allen may have recorded a sack of Wilson on the play when Wilson took off down the field.
… Randy Gregory and Frank Clark both had strong rushes during practice, albeit while working against an O-line that did not have McGlinchey or Bolles. Gregory also recorded a would-be tackle for loss during an early period.
… Jonathon Cooper may have recorded a pair of sacks under game conditions.
… Jarrett Stidham connected with Jalen Virgil for a deep completion during a team period.
… Tim Patrick recorded a pair of early catches as he continues to work back from his knee injury.
… Javonte Williams received a loud cheer from the crowd as he took his first 11-on-11 carry.