Broncos draft picks get taste of NFL practice
DENVER, Colorado ” The Denver Broncos’ first post-draft practice brought the entire team together for the first time.
The Broncos began a three-day voluntary mini-camp Friday, giving the rookies a chance to start learning the playbook and get a feel for new coach Josh McDaniels’ system.
“They’re rookies,” McDaniels said after practice. “They’ve got a long way to go. They made a lot of mistakes and that’s what you expect them to do at this point in time.”
McDaniels said he and his staff are giving the rookies a lot of information to digest.
“They’re in the same meetings the veterans are in. Whatever goes in they’re subjected to,” he said. “They might not get to run it all in practice because at this point in time we’re not going to run a bad practice. They’re getting fed the same stuff the veteran players are getting fed. Whatever they can retain, whatever they can do and do well, we’re going to let them do.”
Along with the 10 draft picks taken last weekend, the 17 free agents who signed in the offseason also gathered at the Broncos facility on Friday. The players are learning a new system while competing for spots on the depth chart.
“It’s wide-open competition everywhere unless your name is Champ Bailey or Brian Dawkins,” said linebacker Andra Davis, who signed with Denver after seven season in Cleveland. “It’s competition and competition is going to make everybody better.”
McDaniels said there are no starters established on the defensive front seven and it will be a while before the coaching staff can determine who will win those jobs.
“We’ve got a lot of big bodies in there and a lot of guys are working in a lot of spots,” he said. “We’re going to give them all an opportunity to win a job and play.”
Davis, who has started 83 games in his eight-year career, agreed it’s too early to name starters.
“When you put pads on that’s when you can tell the value of your front seven,” he said. “A lot of people can look good in shorts but when you put the pads on it’s totally different.”
Davis is an established NFL player, but the rookies are trying to prove they belong in the NFL while trying to absorb the thick playbook.
“Today was a crash course, probably a tiny sliver of what we’re going to do, but last night and this morning were couple of long hours for me trying to understand everything,” said quarterback Tom Brandstater, the team’s sixth-round pick out of Fresno State. “The coaches have done a good job trying to make me understand and teach it to me. I feel good so far for day one but I have a long way to go. I’m excited to get it going.”
Wide receiver Kenny McKinley, a fifth-round pick out of South Carolina, said he and running back Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos’ first pick out of Georgia, worked long hours Thursday studying the playbook.
“Me and Moreno were up studying late, for a long time, because we wanted to come out here and do good,” he said. “He wants to play, I want to play also. You’ve got to know your plays to get on the field. It’s a job so we’re both taking it serious.”
The rookies are also trying to make as few mistakes as possible while trying to make an impression on the coaching staff and their teammates.
“I want to make zero mistakes from day one,” Brandstater said. “By the fifth play I was no longer mistake free. You can make a few but like coach McDaniels says if you make the same mistake over and over it’s going to be hard to find the field.”