ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Head Coach Vic Fangio has coached in his fair share of joint practices. In his more than three decades in the NFL, Fangio estimates he’s participated in more than 40 of the sessions.
And as the Broncos prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers for a pair of joint practices, Fangio has already laid out his expectations for his team.
The teams plan to compete in pads on both Friday and Saturday — and Fangio said he’s already talked to his team about avoiding confrontations.
“Well first off, you don’t want to [practice] against certain teams, so you pick your opponent wisely,” Fangio said. “And then you just reinforce to your players and they reinforce it to their players that we’re here to get good work. We’re not here to fight or anything like that.”
The Broncos will “probably” be without safety Su’a Cravens (illness) and outside linebacker Malik Reed (side) on Friday, Fangio said. Both players missed Thursday’s practice.
Guard Ron Leary also sat out Thursday’s session and will “maybe” participate on Friday.
Fangio did not specifically address whether safety Will Parks would practice Friday. Parks is “nursing a slight hamstring” injury, per Fangio.
“We’re just trying to be cautious with that,” Fangio said.
Todd Davis (calf), Joe Jones (upper arm), Theo Riddick (shoulder) and Andy Janovich (pectoral) are also expected to miss Friday’s practice against San Francisco.
Those who do practice should derive more than a little value from the two sessions — even though Chris Harris Jr. admits the 49ers’ offensive system is similar to the one the Broncos’ defense sees in practice every day.
“These practices are very valuable,” Harris said. “It seems like every time we have these joint practices, there’s always something that you have to learn from … technique-wise and scheme-wise. Hopefully we get a lot of great work and [are] able to use it for the season.”
In particular, the Broncos may get their first hint as to whether the defense has improved in its ability to cover tight ends.
“That’s how teams attacked us the past four or five years, just killing us with the tight ends,” Harris said. “So it’s something that we’ve got to eliminate. … We’ve got enough defenses scheme-wise to be able to eliminate it, but you still have got to have guys that can cover them and shut them down, so this will be a great test for our guys.”
And in some ways, the test the Broncos face this weekend won’t be all that different than the ones they’ll see in the coming months.
“Well, I think what the players learn is they get to go against different players, get to go against different schemes,” Fangio said. “It’s just very, very valuable [and it’s] just like you do it 16 Sundays during the season. Just adapting to your opponent is different. When our tackles kick out to block their edge rushers, they’re going to be different than blocking our edge rushers. And that’s great for them.”