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Mile High Morning: HC Sean Payton details Broncos' approach as voluntary offseason program begins


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The Broncos began their voluntary offseason program on Monday, and Head Coach Sean Payton said "the turnout was great" for the first week of the program.

"I'd say we are at 98 percent [participation], and the two or three individuals who aren't here, I've just talked with all of them," Payton said Thursday.

Just as they did during the 2023 voluntary offseason program, the Broncos' focus for the first several weeks will be on strength and conditioning. The continued emphasis comes following a season in which the Broncos' injury rates plummeted under the direction of new Vice President of Player Health and Performance Beau Lowery.

"We had a big goal of how do we reduce the injuries?" Payton said. "Shoot, the first training camp I had with you guys, we had someone get hurt and it was like, 'Man, here it goes again.' I don't know if it's ever happened before, but we went from 32nd in the league in games missed by players on your roster to first in the league by fewest. So we went from 100 and some to 30 and some in one year."

To try to replicate that success in 2024, Payton said the Broncos' focus will be away from the football field for the time being.

"I think the simple message [to the team] on Monday was, 'That's what we're doing right now,'" Payton said. "It's not football right now, it's getting our bodies [right]. … This is optional to be here. I think the player today wants to be somewhere where they feel like they are getting a really good workout, they're getting the food and all the things that go into it — the recovery, if it is a player who's coming off an injury. They want to feel like they're getting that and compared to maybe where they do it in the offseason. If they feel like where they're coming from is accomplishing more than when they get here, then that's not good. The purpose for that message with me was, 'We're headed in the right direction here. Our job is to maximize your earning potential and win games. The first step in doing that is keeping you healthy.' That dramatic of a turnaround in one year, there's a ton of people that get credit for that."

Payton also said the Broncos' approach helps keep players mentally fresh with the season still months away.

"I don't want them when they pull into the parking lot feeling like they're coming to practice," Payton said. "It's April. I want them to feel like they're coming to get in shape and to take care of their bodies. That part of it has been good."

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