ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Midway through the Broncos' Wednesday training camp practice, the first-team offense took the field against the first-team defense for a move-the-ball period.
And move the ball, they did.
Drew Lock started the period by finding a streaking Courtland Sutton down the right sideline. With Bryce Callahan in tight coverage, Sutton made an over-the-shoulder grab and may have scored a touchdown. Shortly thereafter, Lock went back to Sutton. This time, Sutton made a leaping grab by the goal line to beat a converging Callahan and Kareem Jackson.
Denver's defense responded well during their next opportunity during a move-the-ball period, as Todd Davis made a would-be stop in the backfield on a run play, Isaac Yiadom broke up a pass intended for Sutton, Callahan defended a throw for Jerry Jeudy and Davis added another would-be tackle after a short gain by Jake Butt.
In the red zone, the two units appeared similarly matched. During the first red-zone snaps, Lock found Troy Fumagalli for a toe-tapping touchdown against Yiadom, but Justin Simmons and A.J. Bouye provided back-to-back pass breakups in the end zone on throws intended for Jeudy and Sutton, respectively.
During the final red-zone period, Lock was forced to scramble out of the pocket on one play and then couldn't connect with Albert Okwuegbunam on a touch pass to the back corner of the end zone. Melvin Gordon took one carry off right tackle toward the right pylon, but Alexander Johnson was in position to potentially make a play. The only turnover from the first-team offense came when Lock looked for Jeudy streaking across the end zone, and Bouye snagged the pass.
ALONG THE LINE
For the first time in training camp, rookie third-round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III took reps with the first-team offense as the competition at center continues. He held up well against the rush at times and helped seal off a run lane for Lindsay during an earlier rep with the second-team. After practice, Fangio seemed impressed with the young player.
"I think Cushenberry is doing fine," Fangio said. "One thing that he's got going for him that a lot of rookies don't have going for them is that he is smart. He's picking things up very well. He's calm at the line of scrimmage, as you know the center has to make a lot of calls. He excels at that. He's not a totally honed up machine on it right now, but we expect that he will be. He's got that going for him. He's also got going for him that he played a lot of big games at LSU, especially last year where they won it all on the big stage. I think that helped him too. We're encouraged by him. It's a good battle between him and [G/C] Austin [Schlottmann] and [C] Pat [Morris]."
Jake Rodgers, who has worked at both left and right tackle during training camp, also took first-team reps at right tackle in place of Elijah Wilkinson on Wednesday as the Broncos tested out a new lineup.
"As far as Jake, Elijah's not getting his full share of the reps yet," Fangio said. "... We're happy with where Elijah is coming off the ankle injury that he had in the offseason. Some of [today's reps are] a product of Elijah's status and some of it's a product of we just want to work guys in there. One of the things that you always have to be cognizant of as a coach is to work guys in not just always as the first team or second team because guys on the second team are going to have to work with guys on the first team when an injury happens during the season. We like to mix that in during practice."
With Noah Fant, Nick Vannett and Austin Fort all held out of practice, Butt, Fumagalli, Okwuegbunam and Andrew Beck saw increased reps during Wednesday's practice.
Fumagalli likely had the play of the day with his touchdown grab, but all four players made a series of plays throughout the practice session. The competition for a roster spot in this position group will likely be fierce, but the tight end position could be a major component of the Broncos' offense.
"As friendly as they merit getting the ball thrown to them — they've got to get open," Fangio said when asked about the tight end's role in the offense. "A lot of things go into that — their talent, their ability, the rest of the ability around them. If guys are getting extra attention, tight ends can become open. Tight ends in the red zone always can be a good threat. A lot of things go into that, but we're not against throwing it to tight ends by any means."
- Lock spread the ball around nicely during on 7-on-7 work, as he found Sutton, Gordon, DaeSean Hamilton and KJ Hamler. The rookie's play may have been the finest, as he made a tough catch in traffic working against De'Vante Bausby.
- The defensive line participated in a drill during individual period in which two players competed to be the first to burst off the line of scrimmage and reach a designated point during a simulated snap. Shelby Harris, Dre'Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams were among the consistent winners, but the highlight of the period was when Jurrell Casey won his final rep. The 30-year-old player still has plenty of speed left.
- Josey Jewell grabbed an interception when he plucked a deflected pass out of the air during a move-the-ball drill against the second-team offense.
- Davis had a nice day as he was constantly around the ball in run support and knifed through the line of scrimmage for a would-be sack of Lock early in practice.
- McTelvin Agim had a nice rep late in practice, as the third-round pick pushed his way into the backfield during a red-zone play.