ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Bombs away.
The Broncos may not hit on every deep pass they attempt, but it's clear they won't stop trying to connect on deep shots. Through 11 days of training camp, the deep ball appears to be a staple of a Denver offense that is tailored to Russell Wilson's strengths.
During Monday's training camp practice, Denver's defense seemed to hold the edge at the line of scrimmage and in the surrounding areas. But the Broncos looked deep early and often — and the unit found its share of success.
Reserve quarterback Josh Johnson started the fireworks with a deep pass to Jalen Virgil that would have resulted in at least a 50-yard gain in a game scenario. Then, Wilson looked to Sutton for more.
Late in practice, Wilson chucked one to Sutton down the right sideline, and he appeared to draw a pass-interference flag working against Essang Bassey.
Wilson capped the day with one of his patented moon balls, and Sutton leapt up to haul it in over Ronald Darby. Sutton fell to the ground, but he completed the catch for another big gain.
As Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett noted after practice, the Broncos' offense is designed to open up the field.
"In the end, the idea is to always look for the deep ball — anything down the field," Hackett said. "We are always looking for those explosive plays. [Running Backs Coach] Tyrone Wheatley always tells me, 'Just throw a go, I don't care if it is completed or not, it's just going to make it easier to run because they are going to be nervous and they are going to have to defend it.' So, a lot of the things we want to do [are] always down the field."
Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten noted that Wilson likes to throw it deep more than most — and the Broncos are happy to oblige.
"We invite that," Outten said. "We love it, too. When you have one-on-one matchups, you want to take advantage of, there's nothing like [it] — that's the best route in football. A down-the-field throw on a one-on-one matchup. It also invites defenses to back off a little bit and allows you to get those underneath throws throughout the game."
ON THE EDGE
The Broncos' edge rushing group may feature the most intense competition of any position group, as several players have stood out behind Bradley Chubb and the rehabbing Randy Gregory.
Malik Reed had one of his best days of training camp, as he beat his offensive lineman for a would-be sack on the first play of 11-on-11 action. Later, matched up against a tight end, Reed bull-rushed the blocker back into Russell Wilson's face for another disruptive play.
Nik Bonitto and Baron Browning, meanwhile, also had strong plays of their own. Bonitto recorded a would-be quarterback hit working against the second-team offensive line and then drew a holding call later in practice. The rookie's bend off the line is evident, as he was nearly parallel to the ground on one snap. Browning recorded a strong stop in the run game as he continues a strong camp.
"We have a lot of good players," Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero said. "I've been very impressed with our individual pass rushers—interior and outside guys. The guys, one, are talented, and two, they're getting better. It's been really good to see."
… During a third-down period, Wilson hit tight end Albert Okwuegbunam for a first-down gain down the seam. Josh Johnson then found Montrell Washington for a first down when the second-team offense got its chance.
… Inside linebacker Jonas Griffith was also disruptive, as he recorded a potential sack of Wilson.
… Defensive lineman Matt Henningsen batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage. It was one of the rookie's most prominent plays of camp.
… Running back Javonte Williams made an impressive one-handed grab of an overthrown swing pass to him in the flat.
… Rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis saw some work with the first-team defense and recorded a stop that would've been either a tackle for loss or a very short gain.
… Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and inside linebacker Josey Jewell each would've had a shot at a potential TFL on an early team-period run.
… Wide receiver KJ Hamler received his first full-speed 11-on-11 reps of training camp.
… Earlier in practice, Darby nearly picked off Wilson when Sutton slipped. Darby was undercut as the ball hit his hands, though, and it fell to the grass.
… Wide receiver Kendall Hinton made a nice catch in traffic as he continues to work back from injury.