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Coordinators' Corner: Love at first corner route for Dennison and Davis


Dennison welcomes Davis' midseason addition**

For Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison, it was love at first corner route.

Newly acquired tight end Vernon Davis is expected to be another fine weapon for QB Peyton Manning and the offense, and Dennison already likes what he's seen through two days of practice.

Vernon Davis played his first practice in Broncos gear on Wednesday as the team began preparation to face the Colts.

"[On the] first day he ran a corner route. It was pretty good. We were fine from there on," Dennison said with a wry smile.

Davis will have to catch on quickly as a short-notice addition, but that's not something alien to the Broncos, who added left guard Evan Mathis late in the offseason.

"[Tight Ends Coach] Brian [Pariani] is working with him," Dennison said. "[QB] Peyton [Manning] and everybody—[TE Owen] OD [Daniels] will help him having been in our system for a long time. I think he'll catch up quickly.

"The experience that he has playing in the NFL and certainly his talent will help us just spread the field and get the ball to different people. The more options that you have, the better off you're going to be and he's certainly a great option."

DeCamillis expecting the unexpected from Colts' special teams

The Colts may be in a bit of upheaval with the firing of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who was replaced by associate head coach Rob Chudzinski as the interim coordinator, but special teams has been an area of stability for Indianapolis, bolstered by Pro Bowlers Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri at punter and kicker, respectfully.

Indianapolis' coverage units are among the best in the league, ranking first in average kickoff return yardage and fourth in average punt return yardage. Kick returns don't come easy against them, nor do they come often, either. The Colts have allowed just four returns for an average of 10.5 yards.

But special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is known to have some tricks up his sleeve. In 2014, the Colts attempted three onside kicks—two in the first quarters of games against the Titans and Texans—and succeeded on each attempt.


They've tried for an onside kick in the first half just once in 2015 so far (against the Patriots, which failed), and though their most notorious trick play was a horribly flubbed fake punt, the precedent has been set and opponents must be aware of their opportunistic nature.

"That one [fake punt] got a lot of publicity because it didn't work, but they've had a lot of other ones that did work," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "In that game, it was real close to them getting that onside and they've done that several times, so it's something that you've got to be alert for. It's something they do a great job [of]. Coach Pagano's not afraid to pull out the gadgets and his special teams coach is definitely right behind him, that's for sure."

McAfee is a weapon in his own right, especially when it comes to helping trap opponents into bad field position. The 2014 All-Pro punter is currently fourth in the NFL, averaging 49 yards on 43 punts, including 12 downed inside the 20-yard line.

"They're really good in the kicking game. They have an excellent punter in Pat McAfee," DeCamillis said. "He's a wild card, as far as some of the fake things he does. He's excellent in kickoffs, so it's going to be a challenge for us. And they've got a good, young special teams coordinator that I've seen for a long time. I haven't played against him very much so it's been a challenge this week getting ready for him."

Phillips expects adjustments after Colts' offensive coordinator swap

Starting a short week with Chudzinski taking the offensive coordinator reins on an interim basis probably limits how much the Colts can change after starting 3-5 to begin the season, but Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is fairly familiar with the man known as "Chud" from their time together on San Diego's staff in 2005 and 2006, when they helped the Chargers to a 23-9 record and a 2006 AFC West title.


"Some things are going to change. You don't know if they can change everything, but there are going to be some things changed," Phillips said. "I think Chud was helping them with the offense some. I see some of the things that they ran at Carolina and some of the things that we ran at San Diego that they were running. I think he'll just go with the things that he's comfortable with."

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano told Denver media on Wednesday that he made the change in hopes of getting more consistent production throughout the course of a game, and to not rely so much on furious comeback attempts to close games.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has been the spark for many of those comebacks, as he tried to do on Monday, recording 190 total yards passing and and rushing in the fourth quarter as the Colts tied the Panthers at the end of regulation.

"I think he keeps competing and competing," Phillips said. "He can bring them back. He's got what—13 times he's won games in the fourth quarter. In a 60-game career, that's pretty amazing, because he won a lot of the games that he didn't have to come from behind."

If the coordinator change is as effective as the Colts hope, Luck won't have to come from behind as much, and Phillips expects the players around him to improve, as well.

"I'm just guessing, but I'm sure they're going to get more protection, make sure he has time to throw the ball," Phillips said. "Now you look at him on film, when he gets back, sets up, takes one hitch and throws the ball, he's just like he's always been. He's had some problems with having to hold the ball sometimes or protection, but he can really throw the ball."

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