Sanchez withstands early pressure
Mark Sanchez's touchdown heave to Demaryius Thomas added the exclamation point to the Broncos' opening drive, and as Sanchez's third third-down conversion of the drive, it was a fitting way to finish a drive that showed his poise in the pocket amid pressure.
Sanchez's first and second conversions came on tosses to tight end Virgil Green. Green powered his way on a crossing pattern to convert the first, and Sanchez found him on a seam route with a dart on the second to keep the drive moving.
"That’s where quarterbacks kind of make their name is on third down and in the red zone," Sanchez said after the game. "[Head] Coach [Gary] Kubiak is not shy about telling us, 'That’s what you guys get paid to do.' First down, everyone can get completions but you got to win on third down. You’ve got to put the ball where it’s supposed to be. You’ve got to throw guys open, anticipate windows and understand that you’re going to take some shots but you’ve got to be able to pop back up and move the team down the field."
His touchdown to Thomas was the resilient kind of play that showed his willingness to stay in the pocket with pressure bearing down upon him. The poise paid off as the blitz closed in on him while cornerback Bryce Callahan misread the play, allowing Thomas a wide-open catch.
"I think everything is trust, knowing I'll be in my spots, giving me a chance," Thomas said. "We read on the touchdown play that it was an all-out blitz. He was giving me a chance. Coming from being in California and OTAs and minicamp, just getting that chance and running more routes, we was able to connect."
Whether from linebacker blitzes or scrutiny of the media, Sanchez has held up under pressure, and at the very least, it's a good start for the offense.
"It was great to go out and be able to put up some points on the first drive of the first group," Thomas added. "I know we've been working hard and we've done started somewhere, so we've gotten something going. I look forward to what we can do more in a whole game."
Dora explores the backfield
All three quarterbacks got reps, the defense dominated and the Broncos shutout the Bears, 22-0, in Chicago. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless otherwise noted)
As much as rookies prepare for their first NFL game action during training camp, it's not until the preseason opener that they can really grapple with the changes they've been anticipating. Many rookies said they were able to settle in after their first plays, but few did so as well as outside linebacker Vontarrius Dora.
Dora, who was signed as a college free agent out of Louisiana Tech, has flown under the radar because of the Broncos' depth at his position, but it was impossible for him to do so after recording two sacks in the final seven minutes of the first half, including one forced fumble.
He was quick to credit his teammates, noting that without the pressure they provided, he might not have gotten the angles or time to close in on quarterback Brian Hoyer.
"My teammates, they helped apply pressure and the technique that the coaches teach to me and everything, it just came to me," Dora said.
Though safety Shiloh Keo's blitz flushed Hoyer to scramble backward on the first sack and defensive end Adam Gotsis' bull rush that forced Hoyer to step up into the second sack, it was Dora's relentlessness and ability to shed blocks that brought the quarterback down each time.
"He's been working really hard and the best thing about him is he's taking a lot of coaching," OLB Shane Ray said, reflecting on Dora's night. "His technique has gotten so much better since he's been here, as far as getting low, his point of attack and taking that and what he did shows tonight shows the kind of player that he can be. Coming out and having two sacks, he almost had a third one. So we're really excited for him; I'm really happy with what he was able to do tonight and show that he's ready to make plays."
Like a Doss
Second-year cornerback Lorenzo Doss has made remarkable progress during training camp, as seen by his first-team participation when Aqib Talib and Chris Harris were both sidelined for rest.
Thursday night, Doss' impressive practices translated to the game, resulting in an interception of Hoyer late in the second quarter. The pass, intended for wide receiver Deonte Thompson, sailed high and bounced off Thompson's fingertips into Doss' hands.
"I think he ran a dig. I just did my job playing over top of it and I seen it was a high pass and I knew I had to make that play," Doss said. "Instincts, yeah, that's all it was."
Working with the first team, Doss embraced the accountability that came with that responsibility, and saw that pay dividends in Chicago.
"That helps because with the first team, everybody depending on you to do your job and each man has to do their job," Doss said. "And that's one thing I'm focused on: just coming out and making the plays I need to make and doing my job each and every day."