ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos continue to mold their active roster and practice squad, the team already has its attention on its Week 1 opponent.
Head Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that while Broncos' on-field work for the Las Vegas Raiders will begin on Monday, the coaching staff is already starting to prepare for the Sept. 10 meeting.
"We are working on Las Vegas right now upstairs," Payton said. "Monday will be a Las Vegas practice."
As Payton acknowledged, the game-planning aspect of preparing for a matchup is one of the things he missed most during his year away from coaching in 2022.
"A lot," said Payton of missing that element. "Just the film. What you miss [is], you miss finding something and then it comes up in the game. Then you win the game by whatever [you found], and you realize how significant [it was]. All of us offensively, within the framework of our offense, are diving into the opponent and finding the right balance in Week 1 of not having too much, but [having] good answers. There's a little serenity. There's some quiet in the evenings when you're watching tape and you see certain things. You're always looking for behavior patterns from the opponents, so when you're able to find something and then you see it work in the game, it's pretty fulfilling. It's hard to get that anywhere else."
While Payton's focus is dually on preparing his team and on the Raiders, the players' mindset remains firmly on improving as a team before their normal game-week preparations begin next week.
"A little bit, but not much," said tackle Mike McGlinchey when asked if he's turned his attention toward the Raiders' Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. "We still have a practice against Jonathon Cooper, Randy Gregory, Frank Clark and all those guys. So I'm still a little bit worried about those guys until tomorrow. And then we'll focus on Las Vegas. Right now, we're still trying to get a little bit better. We have, I think, five more practices before we take the field against Vegas. Obviously, those guys require a little bit more attention than your usual pass rushers every week, but we're going to be ready for it when the time comes."
THE WAIVER WIRE
The Broncos did not make any waiver claims, according to Payton, but that doesn't mean they didn't review their options.
Payton said the Broncos discussed the players who were waived from every team, and those discussions varied in length.
"Every player is discussed — some very quickly and some longer," Payton said. "Then, there are some tags we apply to each player with each team. When the process ends, we go back and now we are at 17 that we've tagged. We discuss if it is a claim tag, or is it a practice squad tag? It's pretty long. Then we watch some more film, and coaches then watch the film in the morning. It's a little different being on the West Coast because you have to work later because your decision has to come earlier. It is what it is. I think the process went well."
The Broncos could see some of that work impact the practice squad, as Payton said Denver would add wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the practice squad.
"There are two receivers that will be joining our practice squad," Payton said of Dorsett. "He is one of them. We are pretty familiar with the player, and I was at his pro workout. He gives you speed and transition. The rosters have changed so much in the last five years that you are allowed to carry more players. … We call it a practice squad, but really, we have 69 players on a team. It's just changed a lot, so that added depth for every team. COVID kind of taught us a few things relative to personnel, and it has helped not only the clubs, but I think it has helped the addition for a lot of players to still play and develop. With regard to him, we have a clear grasp as to what we think he does really well, and we will try to highlight those things."
THE PLAN FOR WILLIAMS
As Week 1 approaches, Payton acknowledged the Broncos would need to put a plan in place for Javonte Williams as he nears a return to regular-season action.
"I don't know if we have sat and had that discussion relative to Week 1 pitch count, but that is a really good question," said Payton when asked if Williams will have a limited snap count. "That's something that will come as early as Monday. We are pleased with where we are right now and how he has progressed. He's gotten into games, and he is someone who picks things up quickly. We will have a balance. He's one, but there will be a few players that we have to pay attention to that may not have had the volume compared to other guys. I know it's a regular-season game, but you still have to have a minutes plan or a play plan, and we will have that with him."
Williams played 12 snaps and totaled seven touches for 30 yards in his lone preseason action.