ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With one second remaining on the clock, quarterback Brett Rypien took the snap and looked to his left.
As he released the ball, the fate of the Broncos' end-of-half drill hung in the balance. With a touchdown, the offense would earn the win. With an incompletion, the defense would hold the other side of the ball in check.
In the corner of the end zone, rookie Montrell Washington ran a comeback to the front pylon and hauled in Rypien's pass.
Washington would celebrate the "winning" score with his teammates, but first he executed a backflip from a standing position.
The move was just the latest example that Washington can't be held down.
When the 2022 fifth-round pick joined the Broncos out of Samford, he seemed poised to contribute on the Broncos' special teams unit as a returner. But as practices like Tuesday's illustrate, Washington may be hard to keep off the field on offense.
In addition to Washington's practice-ending touchdown, he also caught a deep touchdown from Rypien. On the play, Washington showed off his speed to get behind his defender and then hauled in the arcing pass with ease.
His performance on Tuesday was just the latest in a string of good practices — and his coaches have taken notice. After practice, Hackett named Washington as a potential option to help fill the void left by Tim Patrick's knee injury.
"He has worked so hard," Hackett said. "I don't think anybody really knew where he was going to put himself within the wide receiver rotation. He is a guy that Russell [Wilson] has latched on to and really tried to push with the rookies being around here. [The goal is for him to] just try to grow because it is so different, coming from where he's been. He's grasping a lot and he's made a bunch of good plays around here. He had a great play at the end there. We're excited. He's going to have to step up."
Day after day, Washington is stacking those days together.
MOVE THE BALL
Washington's touchdown capped the reserve offense's end-of-half move-the-ball opportunity, which was punctuated by a deep pass down the right sideline from Rypien to Kaden Davis.
The undrafted free agent wide receiver, who has been the first player out on the field for each of the first six days of practice, made a stellar grab and got two feet down in bounds to set up Washington's score. The series was the offense's most successful of the day.
In the scenario — which the first-team unit ran twice — the offense got the ball on first-and-10 on its own 25-yard line with 1:25 to play in a tie game. On the first attempt, Wilson and Co. moved the ball a bit but were unable to score points. On the second attempt, the offense picked up short gains on first and second down before a deep third-down pass attempt to Seth Williams fell incomplete. The offense did not attempt a fourth-down conversion, given the tied score.
"We didn't get a score in those, and we need to do better," Hackett said. "We just need to take a look at what they are doing and get some easy completions in those situations at the end of the half to move the chains and get that first first down like they did on the first one. For us, it's always about that operation. We want to make sure the operation is going to be fluid. It's always a little different in the game, but you just want to continue to get the guys pushing and going fast."
… Wilson and Sutton continue to show chemistry that will be paramount this season. On one team period play, Wilson rifled a pass to Sutton for a first down with Ronald Darby in tight coverage.
… DeShawn Williams and Dre'Mont Jones both likely would have had sacks at various moments of 11-on-11 work against the first-team offensive line.
… Seventh-round pick Faion Hicks had a nice practice, as he knifed into the backfield for a tackle for loss on one play and then had a PBU down the field later in practice.
… With the pads on, the Broncos' offensive line had its moments in the run game, particularly early in practice when they blocked up a double-digit-yard gain for Javonte Williams.
… Second-round pick Nik Bonitto posted several good rushes. After one, he let it be known that he thought it would've been a sack under game conditions.
… Linebacker Josey Jewell continues to be active and posted a tackle for loss on one team-period run play.