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Broncos Camp Observations: HC Sean Payton continues to emphasize situational awareness on Day 10

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There won't be much the Broncos aren't prepared for in 2023.

As Denver continued its training camp practices on Saturday at Centura Health Training Center, the team again turned its focus to situational football and two-minute scenarios.

In both a walkthrough setting and in full-speed action, the Broncos had a chance to practice some of those situations ahead of next week's preseason opener.

"I want them, more than just learning the plays, to learn and understand the situations that arise in two minutes," Head Coach Sean Payton said after the practice. "Every half ends in a two-minute [drill], for the most part, and then more often than not, the games do. The circumstances with each two-minute, there can be a hundred. At the end of the half, you're thinking, 'Hey, let's get in field-goal range.' Maybe you get more aggressive if you cross the 50-[yard line] and there's still enough time on the clock. Then at the end of the game, all those situations that take place relative to timeouts — if you have them, if you don't have them — what are the ways that you get down the field and then what do you expect defensively to defend?"

Payton said there are nuances to the situations that the Broncos will continue to emphasize in the coming days in weeks.

"We've got 10 more in two-minute [drills] that we'll have to cover that come up in games that our guys have to understand," Payton said. "We don't have timeouts, we need a chunk play, we get it, receiver slides, we get up, clock the ball — all those types of things they have to understand, and we have names for them. There's an element of the plays that they have to study, but they also have to understand the situation. The first bit of information is right there on the scoreboard — timeouts, time, score. Hopefully we get where everyone's thinking the same way."

Payton said the team went over several more scenarios in Friday night's team meeting, and they used tape from teams around the league. Some of the scenarios, Payton said, may come up once every three or four years. And yet, the Broncos need to know how to react.

"I think it's important enough, or else I probably wouldn't bring everyone up," Payton said. "This game has a tendency to lead to, 'If it doesn't pertain to me, then I don't need to know it,' and there are certain things that I think pertain to most everyone, and those are the ones we're discussing as a group.

"I want, in a perfect world, the sideline to be thinking exactly how I'm thinking when these things arise. … I'm looking at them and smiling, like, 'You got it.' That's being a smart football team. We've got a board of 48 or 50 [scenarios] in there, and we check them off. We put a check every time we've covered it, and hopefully by the start of the regular season we've hit these things two or three times. We'll have a half an hour where we'll just cover it. We have a video library of these situations that we can actually show them: This is what happened, this is why, this is the mistake made or maybe this is what was done well. But there are so many of those things that can come up in a game that I think you have to individually address them. Then sometimes it may just be for the kicking team and the O-line doesn't need to know it, so we'll handle it in special teams."

After absorbing all of the situations and accompanying information, the players will face an informal test of sorts.

Payton said in "probably two weeks" he'll begin to yell out a scenario to see how the team responds.

"There's no tip sheet, and it's not on a script," Payton said.


For the second consecutive day, the Broncos' offense bounced back.

And this time, the two-minute situation was even more dire.

After the first-team offense earned a tying field goal in the second two-minute drive of Friday's practice, the unit needed to score a touchdown to succeed in the final opportunity of Saturday's session.

The offense did just that, as Russell Wilson found Jerry Jeudy for a 47-yard touchdown pass with just 12 seconds to play.

The big play capped a strong finish by the offense, which was unsuccessful in its first two-minute drive of the practice. On the first-team offense's initial opportunity, a pair of penalties pushed the group backward into a first-and-25 scenario.

"It was more encouraging than the way the two-minute drills started," Payton said of the long pass. "Again, we had penalty, penalty. We're working through some of that. I've said this repeatedly: There are ebbs and flows to some of these drills. The first set of two-minute reps were [that we] need a field goal, and then the last [scenario] was [we] need a touchdown."


… The defensive backs held the edge during one-on-one drills, as Damarri Mathis and Tremon Smith were among the defenders with downfield pass breakups during Saturday's work.

… Wilson and the first-team offense were sharp during seven-on-seven work, as Wilson completed all of his passes. The highlight of the session was perhaps a seam route to Albert Okwuegbunam.

… Inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton may have each recorded sacks in 11-on-11 work under game conditions. Singleton, in particular, came flying in to provide pressure and would have recorded a big hit in a game.

… The Broncos' offense seemed to be more efficient in red-zone work, and running back Samaje Perine broke free for a touchdown catch on one of the snaps.

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