DENVER -- Head Coach Vic Fangio is pleased with some aspects of his team's progress so far in training camp. But his club continues to be beset by penalties.
"We definitely have made some strides. Where we haven't is in the penalties. We had 12 penalties today," Fangio said after the Broncos completed their Saturday work in front of 21,234 onlookers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
One team period opened with back-to-back penalties -- a defensive pass-interference call on a deep attempt from Joe Flacco to Courtland Sutton, and an offensive holding penalty on the next snap, wiping out a Royce Freeman carry. In another team period in which the No. 1 offense grappled with the first-team defense, the Broncos again had back-to-back penalties -- offensive holding and defensive pass interference.
Fangio noted that eight infractions were on the offense, and four were against the defense.
"Way too many," Fangio said.
This was the Broncos' third consecutive day of practice with NFL game officials on hand. But locally-based college officials are also present at all practices, so the oversight is nothing new to the players.
"This team last year was 31st in the NFL in penalties called. That's got to stop," Fangio said. "We've got to improve that. We've emphasized it. Obviously I haven't done a good enough of doing that, and obviously they haven't done a good enough job of listening.
"So that's got to be a main focus. It has been. It's got to continue."
And with that, Fangio gave his players something to ponder on their day off from practice.
DROPS REMAIN AN ISSUE
Fangio was also dismayed at the number of potentially catchable passes that fell incomplete. Seven passes were either dropped or sailed through the hands of their intended receivers.
"Guys got to be able to catch. When the ball's catchable, they've got to be able to catch," Fangio said.
"Everybody wants to know how fast receivers run, how quick they are. ... I want to know can they catch first before they tell me all that. And these guys got to start catching better."
*NO. 1 OFFENSE BUILDS MOMENTUM IN MOVE-THE-BALL PERIODS *
In two drives against the No. 2 defense -- one of which was a two-minute drill -- the offense marched into scoring range.
On the first series, the offense marched 42 yards in six plays to reach scoring range before the coaches blew the whistle on the series. Much of the momentum came on the ground, as Devontae Booker followed outstanding blocking from the offensive line -- particularly Ron Leary, Connor McGovern and Dalton Risner -- to sprint 19 yards, moving the offense to its 47-yard line.
Three plays later, the offense was in third-and-8 at its 46-yard line after a 9-yard Flacco completion to Royce Freeman, a loss of 2 yards on the ground and a false-start penalty against Elijah Wilkinson. Flacco responded by hitting Tim Patrick on a crossing route for 15 yards.
During the two-minute drill period, the offense took advantage of a defensive-holding penalty on fourth-and-5 from its 26-yard line that resuscitated the series. After the penalty, Flacco hit tight end Troy Fumagalli for 9 and 7 yards on consecutive plays. The drive briefly stalled after that, but with third-and-8 from the offense's 49-yard line with 35 seconds remaining, Flacco hit Freeman down the middle for a 10-yard gain. One play later, Flacco connected with Freeman again, who got out of bounds at the defense's 30-yard line.
... The second-team offense moved the chains twice in a six-play series against the No. 1 defense, converting two third downs -- one on a 5-yard pass from Kevin Hogan to Austin Fort, and another on a 9-yard Hogan pass to Steven Dunbar Jr. on third-and-8.
But the two-minute drill work ended quickly -- and with Adam Gotsis celebrating a rare pick-six. He jumped to intercept a Drew Lock pass at the line of scrimmage and galloped 21 yards to the end zone, punctuating his score with an Australian-football-style punt.
... Things went better for Lock in the seven-on-seven period. He hit Fred Brown down the left seam for a 35-yard connection, then found Brendan Langley on a deep out for a 23-yard gain. Lock completed his next pass to Nick Williams before that segment of the period ended.
“He had some good periods here today. I think he did his best work in the seven-on-seven [period], which isn’t football, but it’s progress,” Fangio said.
... With Von Miller not at practice in order to attend a funeral and Dekoda Watson held out from team-period work, Jeff Holland saw the most extensive first-team action of his career to date. He flourished, forcing two incompletions with pressure.
... Outside linebacker Malik Reed also moved up the depth chart with Miller and Watson out. During one period, he defused a draw from Hogan to Booker by closing from the backside, then two plays later stunted through the A-gap, closing on Hogan so fast that Don Barclay had little he could do but reach out and hold, which led to a flag.
... Kelvin McKnight continued his strong camp, punctuating his day with a 6-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Brett Rypien during a team red-zone period.
... Khalfani Muhammad saw a smattering of first-team repetitions in the seven-on-seven period. He moved up with Phillip Lindsay sidelined after what Fangio said was a chiropractic treatment where "the guy overdid it."
... Cornerback Isaac Yiadom worked with the first team throughout the practice after Bryce Callahan left because his foot was stepped on early in practice.