ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — When Head Coach Sean Payton said the Broncos' focus for the first month of the voluntary offseason program would be running and lifting weights, he meant it.
As the Broncos continue with Phase I of their workouts, the team's focus has been purely on conditioning and strength work rather than on spending time in the meeting room.
Denver will begin to install its systems when Phase II of the voluntary offseason program begins, but for now, Payton's mindset is clear.
"There's no meetings," Payton said Thursday during the Broncos' pre-draft media availability. "When I say that, honestly, there's no football meetings right now. Phase II begins in three more weeks. We'll begin to introduce the offense, defense and the kicking game. We'll do the Phase II activities that we can do."
Payton said he adopted the approach from Hall of Famer Bill Parcells and doesn't want his players to feel like they're going through another month of football practice.
"This month is lifting and running," Payton said. "If there's a question [to a player], it's how's the weights going. We see these guys running in the morning when we're coming in here for draft meetings. We're not in a meeting-room setting. I don't want the players to feel like they're pulling into the parking lot coming to football practice in April. It's just not happening. It's great to see these guys around."
The process of engaging with the players is in itself a major aspect of the offseason. For the last several months, Payton has worked with General Manager George Paton to build and get to know Denver's roster — but he hasn't met many of the players in person.
"Everything's gone well," Payton said. "I would say this, for me and our coaches, it started last Tuesday, aside from the injured players that were here, it's our first chance to meet interact and be around [them]. It was kind of quiet — crickets — here for a while. And then last Tuesday was the beginning."
"… [I'm] putting names with faces, because for a month, George and I will talk about our personnel and I'm getting the names down but they're magnets on a grease board until you actually get a chance to see them. We're a little over a week [in], and it's great to be meeting a lot of these players."
In a matter of weeks, the Broncos will move closer to football activities and meetings. As the draft approaches, though, the team's focus remains exactly where Payton said it would be.
'HE'S GOING TO BE HERE'
The Broncos' deadline to exercise the fifth-year option on wide receiver Jerry Jeudy's contract is approaching, and Paton reemphasized the Broncos' opinion of the fourth-year wide receiver.
"We're really high on Jerry," General Manager George Paton said. "We don't anticipate doing anything with Jerry [from a trade standpoint]. Jerry finished strong the last five games, [nearly] 500 yards. He was one of the top receivers in the league. We like Jerry. He's going to be here."
The deadline for teams to exercise a player's fifth-year option is May 2.
'CAN'T THANK HIM ENOUGH'
Following reports that three-time Super Bowl champion John Elway would take a step back from an official role with the organization, Paton said the former general manager and president of football operations would continue to serve as a resource for him and others in the organization.
"John's the most important figure in this franchise's history, one of the more important figures, I believe, in NFL history." Paton said. "… Personally, I didn't know John before I took this job. Obviously was a fan of John growing up — it's John Elway — like most of you were. Just getting to know him, he was a great mentor for me as a new GM. Great resource. Continues to be a great resource to me, and a friend. I value that. I appreciate everything he's done for me. He'll continue to be a resource for me and I know for Sean as well. Just can't thank him enough and look forward to seeing him soon."