Broncos Training Camp Day 6 Report: Tim Patrick’s injury overshadows practice
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Midway through practice Tuesday, wide receiver Tim Patrick lay on the grass near the sideline in agony. A medical cart quickly arrived to take him back to the training room. And as it turned out, his ACL was ruptured.
As is typical when a player gets hurt, the coaches gathered the players and pointed them in the opposite direction. “Riverside” is usually the code word for turning the run of play in practice to the other end zone.
But the Broncos weren’t prepared to go on. Not yet.
“My initial reaction was, hey, flip the drill, get it going,'” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said, “and I threw my thing away and I was like, ‘I’m going over there.”
They couldn’t go on until every last player in orange, blue and white jerseys could gather around their fallen teammate. Only after that, with Patrick riding away on a cart, his 2022 season done before it began, could the Broncos pull themselves up and move on.
“A guy like Tim, who’s such an amazing leader, and has done everything we’ve asked, it breaks your heart,” Hackett said.
But the work did indeed go on. Such is the way of the NFL. Still …
“We can’t replace a guy like that when stuff like that happens,” safety Kareem Jackson said.
The Broncos began trying Tuesday. smattering of other receivers moved up and saw first-team repetitions, including do-it-all erstwhile fill-in QB Kendall Hinton.
FIRST MOVE-THE-BALL PERIODS OF CAMP
Hackett had some single- or two-play game-simulation scenarios early in camp. But Tuesday’s two-minute-drill period was the first game-condition, move-the-ball period of camp so far.
The scenario on the scoreboard was this: 1:25 on the clock in the second quarter, one timeout for the offense and a tie score. The possession began at the offense’s 25-yard line.
And the defense mostly got the better of it. Over the course of four series, only the backup offense — led by Brett Rypien — even crossed midfield.
Rypien and the backup offense scored on a 2-yard, third-and-goal touchdown pass to Montrell Washington as time expired. Washington punctuated the score with a celebratory backflip to end practice.
But for the No. 1 offense — and the No. 2 offense when Josh Johnson took the wheel — the results were sub-par.
The first Russell Wilson-led drive saw the offense get to its 42-yard line via three short passes, including a 7-yarder on third-and-6 to Courtland Sutton. But with third-and-4 at the offense’s 42-yard line, Baron Browning and McTelvin Agim burst through for what could have been a sack in game conditions.
Wilson and the No. 1 offense went three-and-out on its second series. He looked for Seth Williams near the left sideline on third-and-6 from the offense’s 29, but the pass fell incomplete.
“We need to do better,” Hackett said. “We need to just kind of take a look at what they’re doing and get some easy completions in those situations at the end of the half — try to move the chains, get that first first down.”
Johnson and the backup offense got a quick 12 yards on a drive-opening pass to Mike Boone. But after an incompletion and an 8-yard pass to Eric Saubert, he couldn’t find Washington for a short pass.
Rypien and the reserve offense fared better. After picking up a pair of first downs and advancing to its 46-yard line, just 21 seconds remained when Rypien uncorked a 47-yard strike to Kaden Davis down the right sideline. That set the offense in first-and-goal at the 7-yard line, and he hit Washington for a touchdown three plays later.
“For us, it’s always about that operation,” Hackett said. “We want to make sure that the operation is going to be fluid. It’s always going to be a little different in the game, but you just want to continue to get the guys pushing, going fast.”
And running back Melvin Gordon is confident things will change in time.
“It’s a work in progress, man. The defense, they got the best of us today [and] the past couple of days. But it’s camp,” he said. “The tide is gonna turn.”
PLAY OF THE DAY:
Patrick’s injury will likely have a domino effect on the receivers, with all moving up a line. That could help Washington get more chances like the one he had Tuesday, when he broke open down the right sideline and caught a 60-yard touchdown pass past rookie cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian. Rypien’s deep-ball touch has been impressive throughout camp.
- The Broncos practiced in full pads for the first time this year Tuesday. A day earlier, they worked in shells, but wore shorts. The primary difference between the days was that on Tuesday, all players wore football pants and the appropriate padding. The contact and intensity level was similar.
- After calling out his team’s perceived lack of focus Monday, Hackett said the Broncos’ focus was “much better” Tuesday. “It was definitely addressed and talked about. I think we got the defense on something, but we didn’t have as many of those self-inflicted wounds like we did yesterday,” Hackett said. “You’re going to have mistakes. You’re going to have mental errors, things like that. It’s just the things that start pre-snap or at the snap — those are things that are unacceptable.”
- Quinn Meinerz took all of the first-team snaps at right guard for a second consecutive day. Meanwhile, Netane Muti shifted back to left guard on the No. 2 offensive line, with Graham Glasgow flipping to right guard. Both were at the opposite spots a day earlier.
- The first team period of the day began with good work from inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith agains the run. Both closed holes rapidly to limit the possible damage from Melvin Gordon, who received the first two handoffs.
- Early in the first period, Wilson had a nice pass to Sutton, winging it through a tight window to the fifth-year wide receiver on a slant just past CB Ronald Darby.
- Edge rusher Malik Reed continued his solid camp. He punctuated his day with a perfect read of a pitchout to Javonte Williams, working his way into the backfield to blow up the sweep to the right side.
- Williams had some solid runs — including one set up by a perfect block from Eric Tomlinson on slot corner Essang Bassey. Later, he had a lovely, crisp cutback on a play that pulled right, giving him what could have been an explosive run in game conditions. The only blotch on Williams’ day was a dropped pass with Griffith in tight coverage.
- Edge rusher Bradley Chubb forced an incompletion by stunting inside, flushing Wilson out of the pocket. DeShawn Williams picked up the chase and forced Wilson into a throwaway.
- Seventh-round rookie Faion Hicks did a great job of breaking up a deep attempt from Josh Johnson to Kaden Davis. Hicks went over the top, timing his contact perfectly to avoid a pass-interference call and make a play on the football.
- Second-year edge rusher Baron Browning continued to dominate second-team work. He recorded multiple pressures. But in first-team work, he jumped early and drew an offsides call.
- Safety and dime backer Caden Sterns broke up a pass intended for Patrick midway through practice, jumping Wilson’s pass before Patrick could haul it in.
- Plenty of tight ends got involved Tuesday. Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck and Albert Okwuegbunam all had solid, double-digit gains on passes from Wilson. Saubert’s catch saw him get wide open in the left flat. Wilson eluded pressure from Dre’Mont Jones and found Saubert, who had nothing but open field in front of him.
- Enyi Uwazurike had one pressure where he went right at guard Graham Glasgow and bull-rushed him back, reaching Brett Rypien just as he threw.
- Nik Bonitto continued to generate pressure, with one burst off the edge past Quinn Bailey that would have likely been a sack in game conditions.
- The transition to full pads usually brings a new face to the forefront as the terms of engagement change. One player who stepped up was rookie defensive lineman Matt Henningsen, who consistently crashed into the backfield to defuse multiple run plays. He also had a pair of quarterback pressures coming up the middle, including one that could have been a sack of Rypien in game conditions. His high motor and persistence stood out on a day that saw glimpses of what he flashed at Wisconsin.
- Corliss Waitman and Sam Martin both took turns during the punt period. Martin’s hang times ranged from 4.08 seconds to 4.54 seconds, including an excellent rugby-style punt that hung in the air for 4.48 seconds, aimed to the right side of the field outside of the numbers. Waitman’s punts had more variance; he had a low hang time of 3.99 seconds to the left sideline, but he had one blast that lingered in the air for 5.34 seconds. Waitman also had a 35-yard punt that was fair-caught at the 10-yard line after hanging in the air for 4.34 seconds.
- In addition to Patrick, the Broncos also lost backup RB Damarea Crockett to a torn ACL. Crockett suffered the injury during a special-teams period. He played 12 games last season, mostly on special teams.
- DL D.J. Jones did not practice Tuesday because of a back issues. “We’re taking care of his back,” Hackett said. “We’re making sure he’s good. So, we’re just kind of monitoring the situation, but it’s nothing serious.” With Jones out, a slew of linemen took their turns filling in on the first team, with McTelvin Agim, Mike Purcell and Enyi Uwazurike all seeing some reps.
- WR Tyrie Cleveland did not practice Tuesday after leaving Monday when he took a hit to the throat. There is no timetable for his return yet, Hackett said. The injury happened because of “miscommunication,” Hackett said. “So, he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. We were trying to get him back into sync of what was going on. He ended up running a motion, kind of not knowing what he was going to do, and they were bringing a corner pressure from the other side, and one guy thought he was blocking him, and the other guy didn’t know anything was going to happen,” Hackett said. “It was just miscommunication. Those were those mental errors I was talking about [in Monday’s practice], that lack of focus.”
- CB K’Waun Williams remained sidelined with a knee injury that he suffered Saturday. Essang Bassey continued to work in his place at slot cornerback.
- TE Greg Dulcich and WR KJ Hamler continued working during the individual period, but they haven’t taken part in team-period repetitions yet.
It was another scorcher at UCHealth Training Center, with temperatures soaring from 86°F to 92°F during the practice, which lasted just over two hours.
The Broncos will practice Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Per Hackett’s plan to have a jog-through day every third practice, the work is expected to be at a lighter tempo after the last two days of heavy contact.