Broncos offense rebounds with physical showing after 'unacceptable' performance

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 20:44:48-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Enough.

Sunday, the offense moved backward when it moved at all. The tackles provided little resistance against the pass rush. The quarterbacks threw three pick sixes. Worse, receiver Emmanuel Sanders absorbed a shove from safety T.J. Ward with no response.

On day 5, the offense stopped playing nice. The players began drills by running the ball effectively out of the I-formation with lead blocker Andy Janovich (shown above), establishing the tone. And they snapped back when linebacker Zaire Anderson shoved running back Stevan Ridley out of bounds. Left tackle Ty Sambrailo ran to his defense, bringing a pack of grunts with him. Words were exchanged. 

"Stevan just missed (Zaire) with the stiff arm. Z has been that way for a very long time. It's good to have Ty and the offensive line in there stepping up," running back C.J. Anderson said. "But at the end of the day we are teammates."

Added Ridley, "It's good competition. We have some big boys upfront who are aggressive and our defense is figuring it out. If you don't have this, it wouldn't be a good team."

Eventually, coach Vance Joseph stopped practice, and told the players to knock it off. They are a family, after all. But as rookie left tackle Garett Bolles said, families can fight and get along.

This was an important response for an offense searching for its identity. The group is becoming more physical as the team inches toward a full scrimmage on Saturday.

"You want to build toughness, build guys taking care of their teammates," Joseph said, before explaining the balance. "But obviously you can't fight in games. So from my chair, you can't build habits of fighting when adversity strikes."

Translation: Joseph understands why it happened, but won't let it percolate. Consider that a macro issue. The micro picture was encouraging. The offense, which creates skepticism nationally about the Broncos' chances this season, showed life on the ground. C.J Anderson provided quick inside bursts, and rookie De'Angelo Henderson bounced outside on a nice run, colliding with Aqib Talib as the cornerback fell to the ground. Talib indicated Sunday that the "best teams have battles that go back and forth ... and you want that all season." 

Regardless of the quarterback -- For those scoring at home, Siemian won the day  -- the Broncos must improve on the ground after averaging 92.8 yards per game last season, 27th in the NFL. 

"We want to run the ball. When we run the ball, you better get out of the way," said Bolles, who continues make a push to secure the starting job. 

Anderson, Henderson and Juwan Thompson delivered strong plays. Anderson, the clear starter with Devontae Booker out 6-to-8 weeks with a wrist injury and Jamaal Charles easing back into the fold, looks quicker after an offseason of cycling. 

"It's up to us to make plays," Anderson said. "I think we all came out with the right attitude."

They were less frequent in the passing game, but Siemian had moments. He took care of the ball in the red zone, and netted a touchdown pass to A.J. Derby. Lynch showed flashes early in practice with a terrific touchdown toss to tight end Virgil Green in the corner of the end zone, but fizzled late. He threw interceptions on back-to-back plays to linebacker Corey Nelson and Justin Simmons, and was nearly picked on on a third straight pass. 

"The quarterbacks were better than yesterday. They were sharp early," Joseph said. "We can't have critical errors in the scoring zone from them. I am looking for decision making."

The mental side remains important. But Monday, the emergence of a physical attack can't be overstated.

It seemed personal. The offensive players had each other's back. Not a bad thing for a group trying to gain traction.

"The quarterbacks are like my wife," Bolles said. "You touch them, you are going to be in trouble."


Right guard Ron Leary watched Monday's practice with a groin injury. Billy Turner replaced him with the first unit. ... Defensive end Derek Wolfe left practice with a "small stinger in his right shoulder," according to coach Joseph and should be ready to go when the team returns to practice on Wednesday. ... The plan remains for center Matt Paradis (hips), defensive end Adam Gotsis (knee) and running back Jamaal Charles (knee) to receive more reps this week, especially Gotsis. Charles will be "sprinkled" in during seven-on-seven drills, then graduate to team drills next week. ... Defensive lineman Zach Kerr exited to the locker room a few minutes before the rest of the team, accompanied by a trainer. ... If it's up to special teams coach Brock Olivo, Janovich is on the team. No discussion. "Jano. Love Jano. If we had 22 Janos, we would be all right," Olivo said. "He's tough. He never says a word, never complains. He just does his job." ... Bennie Fowler said he has dropped from 220 to 208 pounds after three weeks on the vegan diet suggested by Demaryius Thomas. "I have never had this much energy. I feel strong," Fowler said. "I am probably going to stick with it." 

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