ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Head Coach Vance Joseph begins his first season with the Broncos, he's introduced a different practice schedule than has been seen in Denver in years past — and it's all designed with player safety in mind.
In contrast with how most of the NFL operates, Joseph's typical Friday practice focuses on mental repetition and recovery. For a Monday night game, that traditional Friday practice occurred on Saturday.
The Broncos will have a short, up-tempo, move-the-ball practice on Sunday morning.
Though Joseph coached last season with Adam Gase in Miami, he picked up this practice schedule from Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Joseph spent 2014 and 2015 in Cincinnati as Lewis' defensive backs coach.
"We did it with Marvin my second year," Joseph said, "and the reason you do it [is] you just want two recovery days vs. one. We do more work on Wednesday and Thursday and take Friday as a mental practice and a recovery day for the players. It's not a loss when you're talking about football, because the offense got 85 reps today. That's a practice and a half for us. Defensively, we got 65 reps.
"So we're not losing our game-plan knowledge, but we're gaining, in my opinion, a day of recovery for our players. It's a long season, so we want to make a point to start recovery now and not start it Week 10 in the middle of the season. So that's the point behind the schedule."
The players have already shown appreciation for Joseph's practice schedule and the way he keeps them healthy and energized.
"He's got his own schedule," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "The guys love it. It takes care of the players, and we love it. We're getting used to it, but we like it so far."
Of course, nearly all practice schedules designed to keep players fresh are relatively recent inventions. Joseph, who had a brief NFL career in the mid-1990s, said he's seen a change in the way coaches look at managing their teams.
"As we research more about the human body, we realize that recovery and sleep and what you eat is so important," Joseph said. "When I played in the league, it was six weeks of two-a-days. It was practice on Fridays with helmets and shoulder pads. It's a different league. I think it's more about education [and] just knowing [what]'s better for the human body and recovery being a huge, huge concern as far as keeping your team healthy for a 17-week season."
The Broncos wrapped up their week of practice prep for the season opener against the Chargers. (Photos by Ben Swanson)