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Broncos Notebook: HC Sean Payton discusses QB Bo Nix, RB Audric Estime, WR Devaughn Vele and more following rookie minicamp

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A smooth swing and tight spiral may not be so different.

Following Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton said watching Bo Nix play quarterback can be reminiscent of a golfer in rhythm.

"It's almost like watching a good golfer," Payton said. "Sometimes when you watch his game over two years, there's a patience to how he plays. The ball comes out, and — I don't want to use the term boring, that's not the right term — but [he makes] pretty good decisions. With each play, [there is] the efficiency of how he's operating, and all of that. We've done these camps for a long time, and some teams no longer have a true rookie minicamp. It might be more of an orientation. I like to have the workout players here because we've found a tryout player every now and then. Then it also allows you to have the full-team drills, and I think it develops not just the quarterback, but everyone else. So often times, your first exposure to huddle, snap count, verbiage, that can be challenging, but I thought he threw it well."

Payton said Nix, who joined Colorado School of Mines quarterback John Matocha as the camp's two quarterbacks, "is handling the install well" in the early stages of his Broncos tenure.

"He had a pretty good practice today, and he's grinding through it," Payton said. "He's doing a pretty good job with it."

Nix joked he wished he "played golf that way, like I play quarterback," but he said the key to quarterbacking was simplicity and preparation.

"I think it's all a part of an operation and preparation and … making it as simple as possible," Nix said. "Know where your eyes are supposed to go, know where your reads are, get your eyes on them and then go through it quickly. It's just preparation and studying and being around coaches that are going to teach the same stuff over and over and over and just learning it all and going out there and doing it on the field."

As he adjusts to the NFL, Nix said the key to digesting a significant install is simply "all about studying" the playbook.

"It's all about taking one play at a time," Nix said. "Master it, make sure you know the fundamentals, [the] technique of that play, what the play caller's intent is. ... Essentially, they just want to see you go out and execute it. It's my job as a quarterback to get the play started and get the ball where it's supposed to be. … A lot of that's completing passes [and] run-game operation. It can be a lot, but I feel like I'm being taught really well by the coaches. They're doing a really good job of narrowing everything down and making it simple so I can just get up there and process and play fast."

Away from the field, Payton said Nix is "working like all these guys are," and Nix said the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of former great players is not lost on him.

"I don't take that lightly, and I'm not going to take it for granted," Nix said. "Pressure gives you opportunities, so I think the more pressure and responsibility you have, the more that you have to go out there and consistently earn it."


The Broncos drafted Notre Dame's Audric Estime and signed Memphis' Blake Watson as a college free agent, and both players believe they can bring a unique skill set to Denver's backfield.

Estime, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 111.8 yards per game in 2023, said he was a violent runner but has other facets to his game, as well.

"I take a lot of pride in [my running style]," Estime said. "I'm a big guy, as you probably could tell, so I've got to run behind my pads and run behind my size, but I'm more than that. I'm a versatile back. I'm a back that can do it all. I'm a back that can go over you. I can make you miss, and I can go around you. I try to pride myself on being able to do it all."

Watson, meanwhile, said he was a "do-it-all type of guy" who will do "whatever the team needs me to do." The college free agent ran for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Tigers last season.

Payton said the two rookies will compete for roles, much like players all across the roster.

"All these guys, they're all competing for different roles, spots [on the] roster," Payton said. "But there are two guys who are under contract right now that we added. I think that we never put a cap on what they're competing for. I want to see it, and then we'll go by what we see. That was the case with [RB] Jaleel [McLaughlin] a year ago. He sat here as an undrafted free agent that was going through the workouts, and then pretty soon you began to see it. So who knows what we're going to get? They are two different players, the two backs that are here, the two rookies. Two different types of runners, but we'll see where it goes."

Estime, who said he wanted a chance to showcase his talent "at the highest level," expects the Broncos to benefit from competition in a talented running back room that also includes Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine.

"I wanted to be able to compete with the best of the best, and we've got really good guys in the room," Estime said. "… They're going to bring the best out of me. We're going to compete every day with each other, but at the same time we're competing, we're learning off each other, we're growing off each other, and that's what it's all about."


Payton noted the apparent rapport Nix held with sixth-round pick Devaughn Vele on Saturday, as the former Utah wide receiver made several plays in front of the assembled media.

"He has good instincts, and he has really, really good ball skills," Payton said. "In these two practices, he's looked better than I even thought for a guy his height."

The Broncos complimented Vele's ability to play in traffic after they drafted him, and Payton said Vele has the comfort needed to play inside the numbers.

"There are certain players that we talk about that we know are high-traffic players," Payton said. "Those are like forwards in basketball. They're going to be in, and there are certain players that are going to be speed outside. So when we look at congested catches in traffic, yards after catch, there are certain types of players who are going to play in the game. He's that player that's proven at the college level [that] he's comfortable inside these numbers, not to say he can't play outside the numbers."

Payton again compared Vele to Tim Patrick, and Vele said he heard of Patrick and his game while playing at their shared alma mater of Utah in recent years.

"[He's] a great player, and I try to model my game after all of the greats," Vele said. "It's good to have someone that I can look up to and get under his wing."

Vele is even wearing Patrick's former number, No. 81, though he said the selection was "a big coincidence."

The Broncos' rookies and other young players got back on the field on Saturday for the second day of rookie minicamp.

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