Live training camp practices would help Broncos with back of roster



Back in 2004, when Joe Gibbs returned to the NFL to coach Washington, he wanted to have a night practice to change up the routine so players and coaches boarded buses to a northern Virginia high school.

Coach Joe really changed things up during the workout’s final period.

Live blocking/tackling.

At the goal-line.

Starters vs. starters.

I can’t even remember if running back Clinton Portis was able to cross the goal line, but I do recall the post-play trash talk and high-fives between offense and defense.

The intensity was off the charts and it was awesome.

It was also rare. I only recall one other “live” training camp period and that was Jacksonville in 2013 and Justin Forsett sustained a toe injury during an inside run-game drill. But in this season of extraordinary circumstances (no preseason games), Broncos coach Vic Fangio floated the possibility of live practice periods this month.

“Obviously with no preseason games, we’ll lose those evaluation times,” he said. “It will be a challenge for young players to learn and adapt to the game. … Maybe in practices, we’ll have to have some live action in there on occasion. I’ve never been many places where that’s been done in practice. We just relied on the preseason games for that.”

This is what Fangio should do: Have live periods of practice for the back half of the roster. The starters go to one field and do their thing to prepare for the Sept. 14 opener against Tennessee. On another field, Fangio oversees live practice situations.

“All of them, you can’t evaluate them totally until it’s live action,” he said. “Who can tackle? Who’s willing to tackle? Who can break tackles?”

Going old school for just a handful of plays during camp could pay off.

Broncos rank 25th. On Friday, Forbes unveiled its annual rankings of the sports world’s most valuable franchises and the Broncos checked in at No. 25 (11th in the NFL) with a valuation of $3 billion.

The top five: Dallas Cowboys ($5.5 billion, first for the fifth consecutive year), New York Yankees ($5 billion), New York Knicks ($4.6 billion), Los Angeles Lakers ($4.4 billion) and Golden State Warriors ($4.3 billion).

The top five (NFL): Cowboys, New England Patriots ($4.1 billion, seventh overall), New York Giants ($3.9 billion, ninth), Los Angeles Rams ($3.8 billion, 11th) and San Francisco 49ers ($3.5 billion, 12th).

No other Colorado pro team ranked in the top 50. Stan Kroenke, whose holding company owns the Avalanche, Nuggets and Rapids, was ninth with the Rams and 47th with Arsenal ($2.27 billion).

Cutting down to 80. When the league gave teams the option of cutting down to 80 players by last Tuesday (from 90), the natural concern was undrafted rookies would be waived without ever touching the practice field.

But in reducing their roster, the Broncos took the right tact: Keep most of their undrafted rookies so they can be seen on the field and, just as importantly, be evaluated to see if they merit a spot on the 16-man practice squad.

Broncos add behavior specialist. The Broncos have hired Dr. Nicole Linen to the newly-created position of behavior health specialist.

The team said Linen will work with Broncos players and coaches and consult with the medical and training staffs. A member of the American Psychological Association, Linen joined the Broncos from Auburn, where she worked in the Tigers’ athletic department from 2017-20.

Gotsis back healthy. Via email from his publicist, former Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis said he has been cleared by doctors to resume football activities after a recovery time of more than seven months. Gotsis began 2019 as a starter, but lost his spot after four games and was shut down because of a knee injury. He played only 283 snaps.

“This is not my first go-around so I understood the work ethic and commitment required to successfully recover from this type of injury,” he said.

Gotsis has been training at Next Level Performance in Golden.

Taylor’s opportunity. Philadelphia has two linebacker spots open and rookie/CU alum Davion Taylor, a rookie third-round pick, will be in a competition to start. Taylor is learning all three positions.

“Now that I’m at this level, I can’t make no excuses,” he told the Philadelphia media. “I just have to go out there and be a pro about it. I have to be spending extra time in the playbook, probably more than everybody else, spend more time in the coach’s office (and) just doing the extra things to make sure that I’m ready because I can’t really use the excuse that I’m very raw.”

Taylor, who played two years for the Buffs, helped his draft stock by running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.

Footnotes.  The NFL suspended free agent receiver Antonio Brown for the first eight games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy (stemming from a lawsuit filed against him by a former trainer who alleged she was sexually assaulted by Brown). If Brown signs with a team this month, he can participate in all preseason practices. As for any interested teams, good luck. … As if learning a second offense in as many years wasn’t tough enough, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones lost his left tackle when CU alum Nate Solder opted out of the season. … As of Friday, New England had six players opt out, including starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung. The Broncos travel to Foxborough in Week 5.