ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In his first official practice as a Bronco, Russell Wilson received the snap from his center, took his drop and handed the ball off to the back.
As Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett received the handoff, he tucked the ball up against his chest and ran into the open field.
Hackett's presence as the back was a necessity, as the team's running backs largely worked on another field during a special teams period. But it also illustrated the bond between Wilson and Hackett that started during Wilson's first visit to Denver has continued in meetings throughout the offseason program and took its next step during field work on Monday.
"He's an amazing teacher, and I think that's what you love about it," Wilson said Monday. "I think everybody's learning at such a rapid pace, at an exponential rate. That's been really amazing. He just brings great energy. He's young, he's vibrant, he brings that intelligence to the game. Obviously he's got a great pedigree and everything else and he wants to win, too. Our relationship's really tight."
The Broncos' Monday practice — the first of a three-day voluntary veteran minicamp — is still just one of the early steps of Hackett and Wilson's effort to build an offense. Hackett said the offense will combine elements from Wilson's time in Seattle and his own tenures in Green Bay and Jacksonville, but the specifics are still being formulated.
"We have a very, very large playbook, and there's a process of how you teach everything," Hackett said of the installation process. "[It's] kind of like the foundations of what you want to build. Sometimes you have to put plays in that you might not necessarily run, but that are in other parts of the playbook. It's just kind of understanding it and learning it in the proper way so when guys are out there, they can react fast. It's just a long kind of deal, all the things that we do. Today was just kind of the very basics of what we do and then we'll slowly start expanding that with the guys moving forward through Phase II and OTAs."
Hackett said his goals for the three-day minicamp are "efficiency, operating [and] understanding what we're trying to accomplish," and Wilson helped set the tone during the team's first practice.
"Everybody's coming in, they're so fired up, they're so excited to get out there," Hackett said. "In the end, that's what you want. You want guys to come out here, you want them to want to practice and want to get better. Russ leads that charge. This guy loves practice. Just out there at the end he was like, 'Wait, we're done? Can we do more?' And you're like, 'Man, I would love to, but we've got to tone it down.' Baby steps. He's awesome."
Wilson said he was pleased with the team's performance on Monday, noting that the Broncos lacked the normal missed assignments and false starts.
"We were really sharp," Wilson said. "We were really on our idea of executing, getting in and out of the huddle, playing crisp football. That was very evident today, so that was really exciting to see that. That's a testament to great coaching by the guys and just the guys working hard themselves and studying and getting in the playbook."
Wilson's own dedication to studying the playbook has risen to a level that he described as "wildly obsessed." The Broncos' quarterback said he arrives by 5:30 each morning to put in the needed work.
Both men realize their efforts of building an offense are not close to complete, as Hackett said the team had a "long way to go."
On Monday, though, the two took a step toward their imagined offensive system. And while Javonte Williams will at some point replace Hackett in the backfield, even a half-speed handoff to the head coach represented progress.
For the first time, the coaches and players joined each other on the field and moved toward a new era in the team's history.
"This is why we do this — to be able to get out there and practice football and have some fun together and slowly learn the system," Hackett said. "So it was a good day."