The Broncos took to the field to begin OTAs with the season just a few months away. Here are shots from Wednesday's action. (All photos by DenverBroncos.com digital staff)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Much of the commotion surrounding these early offseason practices has been focused squarely on the offense, leaving the defense's schematic shift from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 a little bit under the radar.
However, the defense's change has been leading the way between the two sides of the ball, Head Coach Gary Kubiak said following the first day of organized team activities, or OTAs. That's due to—in part, at least—some of the basic principles already being in place from previous years, he said.
"I think they're actually even a little ahead," Kubiak said I think we're pretty simple on defense and Wade's a great teacher and there is some crossover from what they've done in the past so I think the guys have taken to it really quick and we've got a good group back there. I think we've got a chance to be a very good and deep defensive football team, and I think with what we do defensively won't take guys long to catch up."
Still, the adjustment for the offense has gone well, with Peyton Manning sticking mostly to snaps under center in the early days because, in Kubiak's words, "We know the other end of the stick is fine."
"...we're going to spend a lot of time under center initially in our process and how we're going to go about our teaching," he said. "We have kind of a nine-day teaching installation that we have, so he's going to be under there for a good three days before we move back. But he's been very responsive and he's working extremely hard."
Manning noted during his post-practice press conference that he enjoys the aspects of learning more and being coached to know the ins and outs of new parts of the offense.
Part of that will be an emphasis on play-action, which Kubiak sees as a focus during the initial stages of the offseason and as a big opportunity for their offense down the road during the season.
"First off, if you run the ball well, you should be able to play-action pass," Kubiak said. "It's hard to find big chunks in this league. It's hard to get the ball down the field and make big plays but you've got to make them to be successful and so we feel like if we run the ball well and we play pass and they look the same, then we ought to be able to get the ball down the field. Obviously we're not in pads right now so it's hard to pass-protect and those types of things but it's something we'll continue to work on."
The enthusiasm to absorb coaching and information encompassing the changes in the offense has been noticeable, but that goes for defense and special teams, as well, with players excited simply to be back on the field for team drills.
"We had a lot of energy, obviously," Kubiak said. "Guys have been penned up for a while, coaches and players, so I thought it was a really good first day and we got a lot of reps in. We need to have a good month, need to get better."