Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DMN Blog: Archer's morning practice observations/Delayed in Denver/Practice Report

Archer's morning practice observations

12:57 PM Wed, Aug 13, 2008 | Permalink | Yahoo! Buzz
Todd Archer E-mail News tips

We broke up the morning practice between the DMN crew. Calvin watched the defense. I had the offense. Brian did what he wanted to do, I think.

Overall, the offense was just kind of OK. The Broncos defense seemed to have more energy and linebacker Jamie Winborn was annoying some of the Cowboys with his constant chatter.

OK, here goes:

** In seven-on-seven drills, Tony Romo's prettiest throw was on an out route to Miles Austin, who snatched the ball away from cornerback Domonique Foxworth. Later, however, Austin let a pass slip through his arms.

** In team drills, Romo's pretties throw was a make-it-up-as-they-go deep ball to Terrell Owens on Foxworth after Foxworth sat on an out route.

** The aforementioned Winborn was called for a holding penalty on Jason Witten, prompting the Pro Bowl tight end to scream, "Get him off me." Later Winborn had some sort of "popcorn" comment for Terrell Owens. Might need to watch that in the afternoon.

** Romo was only 2-of-7 in team drills. Brad Johnson was 6-of-6, however, he caught one of his own passes after it was batted into the air by a Broncos defender. Unfortunately, the defender didn't know Johnson couldn't throw the ball again and bit when Johnson had a pump fake.

** Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett had three catches in the morning and showed a burst up the field after one catch.

** In nine-on-seven drills, the Broncos had the best of the Cowboys. Winborn took Marion Barber to the ground on the first play and hit him hard on the second carry. Later Jason Witten collapsed the backside of the Denver line, giving Barber room to cut back for a big gain.

** Left tackle Doug Free stoned on defensive end Elvis Dumervil in pass rush. James Marten took some work at right tackle with Pat McQuistan at right guard.

Delayed in Denver I: Cutler's no slouch
12:38 PM Wed, Aug 13, 2008 | Permalink | Yahoo! Buzz
Brian Davis E-mail News tips

We arrived at the Broncos practice facility around 8:30ish (thank you, Garmin). They were letting media and some VIPs out on to the practice facility The weather was very nice, temperatures in the mid 80s.

9 a.m.: The Cowboys and the Broncos were both stretching. The Cowboys were on the west field while the home team took the east. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett walked through the Cowboys' stretch and yelled, "How 'bout a little enthusiasm!"

Yes, how about it.

For the Cowboys, Terence Newman (groin) didn't practice. Neither did Anthony Spencer (knee) and Marcus Dixon (back). The Broncos didn't have Champ Bailey, Boss Bailey or Tom Nalen, among others.

9:07 a.m.: Stretching was over and both teams went into individual position drills. Nothing new here. The Cowboys' defensive linemen ran through tackling dummies. The secondary worked on interception drills. This lasted until 9:25 a.m. Then the whistle blew and we had our first mini-controversy. The Cowboys and Broncos assistants had a verbal tug-of-war over which end of practice they would hold 9-on-7 inside drills. The Broncos won and we headed to the southwest corner.

9:25 a.m.: If anyone had any doubts whether the Broncos took this serious, Marion Barber learned on the first play. He got slammed to the turf by Broncos veteran linebacker Jamie Winborn. On the second play, Winborn stood Barber up at the line of scrimmage. Players are supposed to stay up after wrapping up the ballcarrier, but there were guys falling all over the place.

Some highlights: Felix Jones had a death grip on the football when two Broncos players tried to strip him. They wouldn't have treated their guy that way, either. Cowboys fullback Ronnie Cruz blew up linebacker Nate Webster. "Bigg" Leonard Davis pushed three guys up into downtown Denver on one play. There was a 10-car pileup at one point, but nobody was seriously injured.

"We just got another tattoo," Winborn screamed on the final play of inside drill. "I like it!"

9:35 a.m.: The two teams got together on the east field and worked on special teams. Broncos kicker Matt Prater was booming 35-40-yard field goals. If Nick Folk kicked any, I didn't see it. Then the teams worked on punt. Adam "Pacman" Jones caught the first punt and would have made a huge return.

"That's a touchdown if those guys do that Saturday," Jones hollered at the Broncos' assistants.

Patrick Crayton and Danny Amendola also handled some punt returns. One block that stood out: Miles Austin looked great hustling down the field and jamming two Broncos defenders. That block would have allowed Jones to slip free for a sizeable gain.

9:55 a.m.: Back to the 11-on-11 team drills. Calvin and I watched the Broncos' offense take on the Cowboys defense. Tony Romo and Co. was on the other field. Right out of the gate, Broncos QB Jay Cutler connected with Nate Jackson for a 17-yard gain with Roy Williams defending in man coverage. Then, Daniel Graham caught a nice pass against the Cowboys' zone coverage.

Some tidbits: Mike Jenkins lined up in the slot a few times. Cutler had no problems throwing Adam Jones' direction. Darrell Jackson caught a pass right in front of Jones, who was playing off Jackson at the time. Backup QB Patrick Ramsey connected with Keary Colbert when linebacker Kevin Burnett turned the wrong direction. Jackson made a quick turnaround catch at the line of scrimmage, and Tearrius George snuffed it out. Clifford Russell also caught a deep ball with Evan Oglesby in tow.

At this point, I moved down to the other side of the field and watched the Broncos' offensive line take on the Cowboys' defensive guys. Over there, Greg Ellis got past Texas Tech grad Dylan Gandy with ease. Jay Ratliff would have registered an easy sack if Denver's Kory Lichtensteiger hadn't held on with his right arm. Junior Siavii showed excellent hand work while getting past P.J. Alexander. Chris Canty also got through with ease only after Gandy's feet slipped out from under him. And Tank Johnson made a great swim move to get by Lichtensteiger.

10:10 a.m.: Break time.

10:13 a.m.: Back to work with 11-on-11. Broncos WR Brandon Marshall made two solid catches for big gains. Russell made a good catch near the sideline, and Adam Jones pushed him in the back. Russell got a face full of grass on that one. (It should be noted that we saw Ratliff at nose with the first team at this point, and Tank Johnson worked with the second team inside.)

Ken Hamlin appeared to hurt his ankle but he walked it off and came back minutes later. Now, we saw Johnson at the nose and Ratliff went to the left end position. What else...Bobby Carpenter made a nice pass break-up on a ball intended for Tony Scheffler. And fifth-round pick Orlando Scandrick made the biggest hit of the day when he absolutely laid out Eddie Royal. Then again, Royal got right back up like it was nothing. Still, if a huge crowd had been in attendance, this would have easily drawn the biggest "oooohhhhs" of practice.

10:35 a.m.: Practice over.

Practice Report
12:37 PM Wed, Aug 13, 2008 | Permalink | Yahoo! Buzz
Calvin Watkins E-mail News tips

About to get some lunch here at the hotel but first let's give you a practice report.

1. Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler was confusing some of the Cowboys' secondary players with some shoulder fakes during 11-on-11. Adam Jones bit on one fake on a completion.

2. Anthony Spencer, Terence Newman and Marcus Dixon missed practice due to injury. Wade Phillips thought Spencer could return soon. Newman said he's begging to return to the field, but the team won't let him until he's 100 percent.

3. Tank Johnson was getting first-team reps at nose tackle. Marcus Spears was getting second-team reps at nose tackle. Jay Ratliff was first-team defensive end.

4. Adam Jones, Patrick Crayton and Danny Amendola took back punts. Amendola fumbled a long one. Jones looked pretty good moving against defenders.

5. Terrell Owens was getting behind the defense during 11-on-11.

6. Everybody's favorite cornerback, Evan Oglesby got another pick.

7. Orlando Scandrick and Adam Jones were knocking some of the Broncos down during pass plays.

8. Adam Jones said he's written a letter to the commissioner, something that he will mail tomorrow, asking to get reinstated.

9. Wade Phillips said he was happy to be back in Denver, his first official head coaching job. "It's one of my homes," Phillips said. "Its nice to be back here. I have a lot of friends here and it was a good opportunity to come here and [practice] with the Broncos."

10. Ken Hamlin got nicked during a drill when he bumped into Kevin Burnett. Hamlin missed one play.

Beat writers note: The NFL Films crew that was on the field during Oxnard for the filming of Hard Knocks was regulated to the sidelines during practice today.