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With Peyton in attendance, Broncos' offense wins end of practice

Fangio sees potential in group, seeks consistency
Posted at 12:41 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 15:32:09-04

ENGLEWOOD -- There is a scene from "Reservoir Dogs" that reminded me of Friday's practice.

The Broncos offense strutted onto the field, but nothing seemed in sync. I could hear my version of the Stealers Wheel hit humming in the background. Drew Lock had legends to the left him, Hall of Famers to the right, and he was "Stuck in the Middle."

As general manager John Elway watched from field level and Peyton Manning looked on from the team's broadcast stage, Lock struggled through a clumsy first few sessions. It reflected a decaffeinated day of practice. But in a sign of a maturity, the offense found traction in its final drive in 1 vs. 1s in the two-minute drill.

For all the buzz around Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton remains the Broncos' best offensive player. Lock found him twice to begin the march. It ended with a scramble and dime from Lock to Tim Patrick for a score in the corner of the end zone.

Defense won the day. Offense planted its flag at the end. I asked coach Fangio if it showed a sign of a maturing offense to rally against a defense that feature big plays from Malik Reed, Jurrell Casey and Justin Simmons.

"I continue to see flashes and potential, but flashes and potential don't win in this league," Fangio said.

Fangio wants the offense to show consistency. But when they are on the field, it's a battle. Make no mistake, Fangio keeps score.

"Well, I am calling the defenses out there (deadpan pause). If I see offense beating us, it warms my heart a little bit," Fangio said. "But we are out there competing."

Last spring, Manning told reporters about facing Fangio in Indianapolis when he was the defensive boss. It was on. Manning wants to win at everything, so he took umbrage with Fangio's defensive backs holding. Fangio, who has a dry wit, placed a plate of cheese and a spirit in Manning's locker for his fine wine, um, whine.

Manning's teams dominated Fangio in the regular season, losing once. But the respect is real. Fangio takes the defensive stats personally. And there were multiple highlights Friday.

Reed, getting extra reps with Von Miller day-to-day with an elbow issue, lived in the backfield. And the Broncos defensive line delivered great push throughout practice, though the offensive line rallied in the goal-line with 1-yard plunges from LaVante Bellamy and Jeremy Cox.

No fans, no joy

The Broncos reacted with disappointment with the expected decision to have no fans for the home opener on Sept. 14. The Broncos remain hopeful that fans will return at some point if the state continues trending in the right direction with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's disappointing. We are going to miss them. We are going to miss it. Hopefully we can eventually get some fans in there," Fangio said.

For the Broncos, it hurts. They sell out every game, and hold a distinct advantage when leading in the fourth quarter, the crowd making it difficult for opposing offenses to audible.

"The crowd definitely gives us momentum," said Broncos defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones.

Good news on linebacker Todd Davis' left calf injury suffered Thursday. It's not the calf he hurt last season, and it's not as serious. Fangio said Davis will miss a week, then be re-evaluated. ...

Von Miller (elbow) and Melvin Gordon (ribs) are day-to-day. ...

Cornerback A.J. Bouye continues to have a solid camp. He brings length and experience to the position. Fangio is pleased with how quickly he has picked up the defense. ...

Patrick Morris worked with the first team at center. The Broncos are holding auditions with Austin Schlottmann the slight favorite in the competition with rookie Lloyd Cushenberry and Morris. ...

I am not sure how much rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam plays this season, but he has shown in camp he can be a threat in the red zone and on third down. ...

Issac Yiadom looks like the slight leader for the third cornerback spot, but De'Vante Bausby is pushing for the job. ...

DreMont Jones on playing football during a pandemic, experiencing life in a quasi-bubble. "It's weird. Everything is different. You are isolated. But (playing football) is doable."