ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When organized team activities began on May 13, Head Coach Vic Fangio said the practices marked the start of the season.
"We've installed a lot of our offense, defense and special teams, but having to go on air or walkthroughs," Fangio said on May 13. "Now we get a chance to go against each other and that's just another step in the progression."
Through four of those practices, Fangio said he's pleased with the progress his team is making — and he said the success can be attributed to two different factors.
"I think the guys are picking things up quickly," Fangio said Monday. "That's a compliment to the assistant coaches with the job they're doing with these guys, which they did in Phase I and Phase II in the classroom. And it's a compliment to the players that they've been able to transition to on-field 11-on-11 football and do what they've been taught. That's a big transition from classroom to the field."
Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Isaac Yiadom and Ron Leary are just a few of the players making that transition:
- As a rookie, Sutton hauled in four touchdown receptions. But just two of those scores came in the opponent's red zone, and neither came when the Broncos possessed the ball inside the other team's 5-yard line. The Broncos' strong running game in 2018 can help explain part of Sutton's lack of red-zone scores, but the wide receiver said Monday he's focused on upping the tally in his second season.
"I think in the red zone, I'm probably one of the biggest threats that DBs go against," Sutton said Monday. "Every DB that I've played against or I will play against will probably say the same thing. They might not show it, but they know that I'm a 6-[foot]-4, 220[-pound] guy. In the red zone, I'm a threat no matter where we're at going in. I'm definitely looking forward to capitalizing more on that this season, being able to put more in the end zone and just taking advantage of what God gifted me with: this body, this size, this speed, this athleticism. Being able to take advantage of that and use it against the 5-[foot]-9, 5-[foot]-10 corners that we go against."
- Fant — a first-round pick — showed off his speed and sure hands during Monday's OTA practice, but Fangio said the rookie tight end still has a lot to learn.
"He can run," Fangio said. "We all knew that. That was easy. But now he's got to learn how to be a tight end in the NFL. You know, he's got tools. But I can go into Home Depot and walk out with a bunch of nice tools. I'm not a carpenter. We've got to teach him to be a tight end in the NFL, and he's working great at it.
- Yiadom (shoulder) returned to the field Monday for individual drills and 7-on-7 sessions, Fangio said. The second-year player did not participate in team drills, but Fangio said the team hopes to get the cornerback "back up to speed here quickly."
Leary, meanwhile, has gotten positive reviews from the medical staff as he recovers from an Achilles injury. The guard also took part in individual drills but stayed away from 11-on-11 sessions.
"We're hoping Ron makes it back," Fangio said, "and hopefully we'll see him partaking by the last couple practices before we go on break and [then] he'll be ready to go full in training camp."
- Asked about Chris Harris Jr., who did not attend Monday's voluntary practice, Fangio declined to make any comment about the situation.
"I stay out of it," Fangio said. "That's the business side of football. I deal with football business."