McDaniels taking Boncos preseason very seriously |

McDaniels taking Boncos preseason very seriously

AP Sports Writer
Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels takes part in drills at their NFL football training camp at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos aren’t taking this preseason stuff very lightly.

Under new coach Josh McDaniels, all but a handful of their practices have been in full pads, something that was almost unheard of under former coach Mike Shanahan.

The preseason games won’t be a walk in the park, either.

McDaniels has told his starters and draft picks to expect to play deep into Friday night’s exhibition opener at San Francisco.

“I feel like they’re taking it real serious because, basically, this is a whole new team,” nose tackle Ronald Fields said. “You’ve got new coaches, a lot of new players and everybody is eager to see what everybody is going to get out and do. So, it’s a serious game. We’re preparing for it like a regular season game.”

With a full-fledged game plan, a couple of stadium walkthroughs and even a thick scouting report.

Tight end Daniel Graham, who used to play in New England, where McDaniels cut his coaching teeth, likes the fresh approach to these exhibition games that don’t really count but certainly do matter.

“I do. It gets us into a groove,” Graham said. “We’re not looking forward to 10 plays and then we’re out. We’ve got to play until Coach is satisfied with our play.”

McDaniels moved two of his training camp practices to Invesco Field so the players and coaches could go through dry runs before facing the 49ers. They went over everything from booth-to-field communication to where the offensive players will sit on the bench when the defense is on the field and vice versa.

It was typical McDaniels, who is meticulous in his preparation and doesn’t have an ounce of tolerance for ambiguity.

“I think we feel pretty comfortable with everything. I am sure we will run into some sort of snag on Friday night. That normally happens your first time out, but I think everybody understands how we are going to run the sidelines and how we are going to run the game operations,” McDaniels said.

And they all understand that under McDaniels, there’s no such thing as a cameo appearance for stars or high draft picks to put in their couple of series and call it a night before they’ve even broken a sweat.

“They are going to be ready to play the whole game. That is what the philosophy is and that is how we are going to prepare for the games in the preseason,” McDaniels said. “We will determine as we go who needs more work or less work as we get into the game.”

Rookie head coaches are notorious for taking the preseason so seriously, but McDaniels might be on another level altogether. He canceled a practice earlier this week because he wanted to spend the time going over the scouting report and game plan.

“It will be thorough. I wouldn’t say not quite as large as a normal game plan will be, but again, we do not want to give them false expectations of what is going to happen in the regular season,” McDaniels said. “The volume will be probably close to what it would be (in a regular season game), some of which we won’t run and some of which we will just practice and prepare for.”

Second-year pro Peyton Hillis said nobody is grumbling out loud over McDaniels’ methods.

“For the veterans and for the younger players, I think the point has been made,” Hillis said. “For a new coaching staff to come in, to establish their system, their scheme, they have to enforce it early instead of late to get ready for the season.”

McDaniels said part of his approach has to do with his experience serving on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England.

“These are not just scrimmages,” McDaniels insisted. “They are a chance for you to actually go through and substitute, run the game the way you would run it and execute. I hope there are six or eight of these (situations) that come up in the game on Friday night, because then we will get to actually go out there and see what we learned from all of these practices.”

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