ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There was a lot to learn.
When the Broncos assembled for the voluntary offseason program, they faced the challenge of learning new systems on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
A couple of months later, with the team near the end of its offseason program, the Broncos have taken great strides. As Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett explained Monday, though, the process is never truly complete.
"It's going to be never-ending," Hackett said. "No matter how many years you go, you're always going to be developing and getting better. For us, the guys are having fun, the guys are getting after it. They're competing, and that's the first most important thing. When it comes to understanding the systems to understanding the reasons why we're doing the plays, all those things will always grow every day in. They're doing a fine job. They're all working so hard, and I appreciate that from all of them."
Yet while he's been impressed with the early returns, Hackett knows his team can achieve even more.
"As a coach, we always want more," Hackett said. "We always want to do better. … For myself, for the coaches, for everybody and the players. But they definitely know what they're doing. I want them to do it even better. We just want to set that standard and keep attacking and keep getting better every day."
During Monday's mandatory minicamp practice, the Broncos displayed both their offensive potential — via some strong runs and a pair of touchdown passes to Albert Okwuegbunam — and their need to continue to find consistency. Pre-snap penalties, a series of batted balls and staunch secondary play kept the Broncos out of the end zone for a portion of their red-zone work.
"They did a great job," Hackett said of the defensive effort. "It's been great battles all the way up through the OTAs up through this day. They're doing a great job communicating, and it gives us a challenge every single day. We had a couple good runs, a couple things pop here and there, and we've just got to keep on battling vs. each other."
Despite the back-and-forth nature of the practice, quarterback Russell Wilson said he feels "extremely confident" about the state of the offense ahead of his first season with the team.
"We look really good," Wilson said. "We're going against a great defense every day. That's the challenge you want every day, to go against the best of the best, and our defense is the best of the best. We're getting better every day, we're making touchdown plays, guys are making key stops on defense, we're making plays on key third downs. It feels really great."
The Broncos aren't quite done getting work in before training camp, though. Wilson said after a little time off, he and his receivers will gather to throw in southern California, just as they did before the offseason program.
"I think it's really critical to get away, clear your mind, cause we're about to go on a 20-week journey," Wilson said. "That's the goal. You've got to rest your mind for a second, spend time with your family. I know a lot of guys, they've been away from their kids ... so that's really important to have that to hit the refresh button. But we'll go back to work super quickly. We'll catch up probably mid-July, a couple weeks before and get after it."
Cornerback Pat Surtain II returned to practice on Monday, while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy worked on a side field after suffering an injury last week. Tight end Eric Tomlinson (lower extremity) also did not practice, while tight end Greg Dulcich and outside linebacker Randy Gregory were among the players to work on a side field.
Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland suffered an apparent leg injury on the final play of practice, and he was carted to the locker room. Hackett did not provide an immediate update on Cleveland in his post-practice media session.