Archive for the ‘Special Teams’ Category

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Some things to watch for vs Dallas

August 18, 2007

Unfortunately, I don’t live in Denver or Colorado or any state nearby in fact. That means I don’t have local TV coverage of the Bronco’s. And that means I won’t be able to see our second preseason game tonight against the Dallas Cowboys until tomorrow afternoon when the NFL Network replays the game.

And since I want to watch the game before reading anyone else’s opinions or analysis, I will be imposing an internet-ban on myself from tonight until tomorrow evening. That means no surfing the net, checking email or blogging for 24 hours… ouch!

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TRAINING CAMP: DAY 3

July 31, 2007

NOTES AND NEWS FROM DAY THREE OF TRAINING CAMP:

Domenik Hixon InjuredWe’re at Day Three at Dove Valley, boys and girls!

And the biggest news from the morning practice is Domenik Hixon’s shoulder injury. The speedy receiver landed on it during the later part of the morning session.

“I just came out and tried to make a play and landed on my shoulder. That’s football.” — Domenik Hixon 7/31/07

The injury is thought to be ‘slight,’ although he will not be returning to the field for the rest of the day. Mike Shanahan discribed the injury as a 1st degree shoulder separation. They will have a MRI done tomorrow to determine the exact injury and recovery time.

Hixon’s absence left room for David Kircus to show off his skills. He had some very acrobatic catches, but he also dropped or bobbled several passes leading Shanahan to mention his consistancy in his post-practice presser.

“He’s a little inconsistent. He drops the ball a few too many times, but he does come up with the big play. That consistency dictates whether or not you get a chance to play come game time. But David does show flashes and hopefully that consistency will improve and if it does improve he will have a chance to be on the football team.”

— Mike Shanahan 7/31/07

However, the ray of hope for Day 3 was seeing Rod Smith running (well, jogging) on the field after the second practice! Go Rod — we NEED ya buddy! 🙂

* Image provide by Erik Lars Bakke and Andrew Mason *

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ONE-A-DAY GROUP

Veteran Players on one-a-day status included: Champ Bailey, John Lynch, Nick Ferguson, Tom Nalen, Matt Lepsis, Ebenezer Ekuban, Sam Adams and Stephen Alexander. Brandon Stokley and Adam Meadows both practiced after sitting out the morning session. Travis Henry also got the afternoon practice off.

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OFFENSIVE LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg Wide Outs:
With Hixon out and Brandon Stokley only practicing in the evening, David Kircus ran with the 1st Team and Brian Clark was the #3 WR.

den-logo.jpg Tight Ends:
No real change, Nate Jackson and Chad Mustard were also on the 1st Team for kick off returns.

den-logo.jpg Running Backs:
Again, no change. Travis Henry with Cecil Sapp running second. Mike Bell, Andre Hall and Young following behind.

den-logo.jpg O-line:
* 1st Team O-line was unchanged from yesterday: LT Matt Lepsis, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Chris Kuper and RT Erik Pears. AFTERNOON: With Lepsis and Nalen sitting out the practice, Chris Myers took over at center, RT Erik Pears shifted over to the left side and Adam Meadows took Pears’ spot at RT.

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DEFENSIVE LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg D-line:
* 1st Team D-line stayed the same as the last couple of days: DE’s Ebenezer Ekuban and John Engelberger, DT’s Gerard Warren and Sam Adams. AFTERNOON: Elvis Dumervil lined up at right DE with Ekuban on one-a-days.

DIME PACKAGE NOTE: Ekuban and Warren were the tackles with ends Jarvis Moss and Elvis Dumervil.

den-logo.jpg Linebackers:
* With Ian Gold out with back spasms, the 1st Team LB’s were: D.D. Lewis at SAM, D.J. Williams at MIKE and Louis Green at WILL.

den-logo.jpg Secondary:
No changes here as CB’s Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly and Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch played on the 1st Team. Foxworth was their Nickel back and Cox joined the 1st Team during work on the Dime Package. Rookie Roderick Rogers did seem 2nd Team action late in the morning practice. AFTERNOON: Domonique Foxworth and Curome Cox filled in for Lynch and Ferguson in the afternoon and Karl Paymah filled in for Champ.

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SPECIAL TEAMS LINE UPS: TUESDAY

den-logo.jpg Kick-Off Return Team:
On Special Teams the 1st kick-off return team looked like this: Safeties Steve Cargile & Hamza Abdullah, RB Cecil Sapp, LB’s Warrick Holdman & D.D. Lewis, TE’s Nate Jackson & Chad Mustard, DE Tim Crowder and O-lineman Chris Myers.

Returners consisted of WR Quincy Morgan and RB Mike Bell, with Kircus and WR Glenn Martinez each fielded some kicks as well. Morgan’s lead blocking was handled by Kyle Johnson, while Troy Fleming worked with Bell.

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My Training Camp Questions

July 24, 2007

Everyone has their list of top Training Camp questions. The Denver Post, ESPN, FOX Sports even this complete dolt over at Yahoo! Sports. Jason Cole actually thinks our biggest training camp issue is that we will be abandoning our traditional Zone Blocking Scheme:

“For the first time in more than a decade, the Broncos are getting away from their traditional cut-blocking scheme in favor of a more traditional style featuring heavier linemen. The timing is unfortunate, as new RB Travis Henry would have been perfect in the old scheme. But because second-year QB Jay Cutler isn’t suited for the movement of the old system, change was essential. It will be interesting to see how it works out.”

— Jason Cole on Yahoo! Sports

Of course this is complete absurdity and Cole should be fired for writing such unresearched garbage — I would surely get sacked if I did my job this piss poorly.

Cole’s idiotic ramblings aside, most of the Training Camp questions poised on these lists are valid areas of concern. And narrowing it down to a set number (like a top five) is fairly difficult. And prioritizing that list is even more complicated. However, I have undertaken this daring feat and am reasonably certain that I haven’t embarrassed myself too badly — well, at least not as badly as Jason Cole did. 🙂

 

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Jon’s Top Five Training Camp Questions:

#5 O-line Work:

Matt Lepsis’ return is a big boost for the O-line that tended to struggle last year. However, I think for the first time in a long time, there is serious competition along the line as we rebuild the Right side. It looks like Pears and Meadow will be duking it out for the Right Tackle spot, while Chris Kuper and Montrae Holland will lead the fight at the Right Guard position.

However, my concern stems from the fact that at the same time we’re working on figuring out our new Right side for the O-line, Travis Henry is attempting to develop chemistry with the personnel upfront to maximize our ZBS. This could delay the development of that chemistry and might even mean a slower start to Henry’s ground game dominance (which I have no doubt about at all).

SUMMARY:

I would like to see a couple of guys step up early and maintain their lead along the Right side, so that Henry can begin getting used to their blocking styles and gap creation. I’d like to see Pears and Kuper excel. I’d also like to see our young rookies in Ryan Harris and Greg Eslinger develop into quality backups and/or practice squad projects.

#4 Overhaul on the D-line:

Many lists include adjusting to Bates new defensive scheme. Or D.J.’s move to the middle, but I don’t think either one is the highest Defensive concern. That honor going to our D-line. And while our new line will not be decided during Training Camp, I think we might get a highlight or two from a couple of players that could play into the coaches final decision. However, don’t expect to see anything significant until the preseason. At that point it will become obvious to both coaches and fans what rotations and combinations work the best.

SUMMARY:

We will get to see a heavy rotation during camp of all the D-linemen. I’m very interested in how our new linemen compete relative to the old pros we acquired. Look for Thomas to be the first of the rookies to see first team work. I think Bates & Johnson will give him a shot early to see what he can do.

#3 Making Special Teams Special:

Ok, I know I’ve harped on this quite a bit, but gosh darn it we stank last year in our coverage of kick off and punt coverage. We ranked 31st in the league in yards allowed on kick offs, and THAT has to change. We allowed almost 5 extra yards per return than the average kick off coverage teams last year. And when you multiply that by the 55 kick returns we faced last year, it means that we gave up 275 yards more than the average NFL team in 2006.

This year we have a new Special Teams Guru, Scott O’Brien. He has a great track record, so we’re all hoping that what we see on the field this year is much, MUCH better than 2006. Camp (and the preseason) is a place when players can make a name for themselves by excelling on Special Teams. We have several ST standouts who have made a place for themselves due to their contribution on Special Teams.

SUMMARY:

Look for most of the media to focus on the heated battle for kick off and punt returners. Those are glamorous positions with lots of attention given them. However, the coaches will be watching Special Teams practices for that one or two players that lay it all on the line (think Terrell Davis in Tokyo his rookie year). Those usually unsung warriors of Special Teams will be the ones O’Brien is trying to find to make his unit something truly special this year.

#2 Wide Open Wideout Competition:

We have several questions at play in the area of WR. Javon Walker is a clear starter. Much has been made regarding his mental state after Darrent Williams’ death, but I think Walker will turn those emotions into on-field drive and dedicate (even if not verbally) the season to D-will. After Walker the picture gets cloudy.

Every Bronco fan wants to see Brandon Marshall come into his own. We all want to see the true star he showed signs of becoming last year. And although Marshall has spent the off-season practicing and working on strength and conditioning, he still seems prone to injury. He was hampered at Team Camp and, again, was injured during Mini-Camp. He needs to stay health to make the #2 spot we all know he can fill. After Marshall, there is a slew of receivers waiting their turn.

Leading the pack (IMHO) is Brandon Stokley. He is ahead of schedule and was working on 7-on-7’s at Mini-Camp. If there are no set backs I would surprised if he doesn’t score the 3rd WR spot. Then there’s Kircus, whom I really like from last year. Domenik Hixon and Quincy Morgan, who have a good shot at the Special Teams returner position. We also have Brian Clarke, Marquay McDaniel and David Terrell.

And the widecard is Rod Smith. In my opinion, the question is not if he will return. The question is if he can return in time. Mike Shanahan will give Smith all the time he can, but I’m not sure how long that is. If Smith isn’t able to practice at Camp and then doesn’t get into any games in the preseason, Shanahan will be up against roster cut deadlines and he will be looking at this undesirable choice: Keep Rod or someone else that is needed elsewhere on the roster. That will be a terrible choice and my only hope is that Rod can make a meaningful appearance prior to those cut deadlines. That will give him some stock value and possibly give him time to fully recover before becoming a necessary casualty.

SUMMARY:

In Camp we should get a good feel for who Cutler is comfortable throwing to, and who is learning the system quickest. We won’t know who will be cut at the conclusion of camp as Shanahan always weights preseason play heavily into his final roster decisions. However, Camp should provide our first clues as the each player’s direction.

#1 Cutler’s Development:

My number one question leading into Camp still revolves around Cutler. I truly think that this team will go as far as #6 will take us and his development is critical to the success of our whole team. We’ve heard some great things from players and coaches about Cutler’s awesome work habits and desire to learn and grow this off-season. Camp is where we will get our first serious look at what he’s really picked up.

SUMMARY:

Many people have mentioned that Cutler has a great advantage working against our top notch secondary. And while I’m sure Cutler throws against Champ and Bly on occasion, the bulk of the first team offensive practices are against the second team defense. That being said, we have SO many players fighting for a spot on the D-line, that Cutler and his O-line will get plenty of pocket pressure experience. This will test both our repaired and rebuilt O-line, but also Cutler’s ability to complete reads and feel pressure in the pocket. And I would argue, we’ll also see some pretty good footwork from Cutler as he gets out and runs the ball when his protection breaks down. I think some people under estimate Cutler’s scrabbling ability. And after having the Snake behind Center, it might seem like that. But don’t think our new QB isn’t mobile. He’ll scrabble when necessary — you’ll see.

 

 

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That pretty much sums up my biggest concerns or questions heading into Camp. There are some other areas that will be great to watch for during Camp and the preseason. So, I’ll work up a list of interesting positions battle and other areas/players to watch this Camp tomorrow.

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Learning from the Special Teams Gōru

July 2, 2007

I don’t know what we’re doing messing around with Scott O’Brien. I mean, sure, he’s created some of the most impressive special teams units in the NFL, but he doesn’t have ANYTHING on this guy!

We should all learn something valuable from this Special Teams Gōru… Although I’m not really sure what a ‘Gōru’ is… I’m sure it’s something good!

“33% of the game is Special Teams, other 33% is Offense, other 33% Defense and 1%…. well 0.01%… or, whatever the f#@$’s left is motherf#@k’n mental!”

— Thafranchise1 

Oh… it’s ‘mental’ alright… and for you it’s about 0.01% mental.    🙂

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 For over 150 more video examples of this ‘Special’ team player check out his YouTube collection: HERE

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Kick Off Coverage Needed… Badly.

June 15, 2007

THIS POST HAS BEEN MOVED TO BRONCOTALK.NET:  REDIRECT

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