Broncos Practice Report: Gregory, Schobert, Turner make Denver debuts
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Playing football wasn’t comfortable for Randy Gregory in recent years. He plowed through despite shoulder pain, but as time progressed, it became obvious that it affected him.
“As far as the shoulder goes, it was something that I’ve been dealing with for two, maybe three years now,” he said Monday as he practiced for the first time since signing with the Broncos in March. “And it got to the point where it was kind of hindering my play.
“So, [surgery] was definitely something important to do long-term for the team. So, I got it taken care of and I’m glad it’s in the past. I’m still working through some kinks, but I should be good to go.”
Wearing jersey No. 5, Gregory took only individual repetitions Monday. But he already notices a difference in how he can move his arm compared to where ehe was before the procedure.
“Definitely. Compared to pre-surgery, there’s a lot of things I couldn’t do that normally, even you guys (media) should be able to do,” he said. “So, going out there and playing on it like that has been kind of tough. But I’m a fighter and I tried to fight through it, but it got to a point where I had to really take care of that.
“The mobility aspect of it, just the range of motion has probably been the biggest thing. Striking — I’ve been able to do that and ripping and things like that. Just getting on the field and being able to work those moves out is kind of something that’s up in the air.
“I feel very confident about it, but it’s something I haven’t done in a few months.”
And now he has precisely four weeks to be up to speed if he is to play in Week 1. That said, the Seahawks game is his target date.
“That’s the plan,” Gregory said. “I think today is a big step, obviously going out there and doing individual. But at the end of the day, the plan is to be ready for Week 1.”
BILLY TURNER GETS UP TO SPEED
Wearing jersey No. 57, Turner made his Broncos practice-field debut. But like Gregory, Turner was limited to individual work as he completes his recovery from a left-knee injury.
As with Gregory, Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said the plan is to gradually bring Turner up to speed. In recent weeks and throughout the offseason, Turner’s primary task was getting the cerebral aspects of his work down — even though his familiarity with Hackett’s scheme from his three years in Green Bay gives him an advantage.
“It should help a lot,” Turner noted. “But that being said, every offense — it doesn’t matter if it’s the same scheme or you have similar or the same coaches When you have different quarterbacks, things are just different — whether it be the cadence, whether it be different concepts that he might want to run more of.
“It will probably help me, yes, but at the same time, there is definitely going to be a learning curve that I’m going to have to get over by just playing with a different quarterback now.”
Still, Turner and the coaches expect that the mental reps that the veteran took in recent weeks and months will help him along.
“One of the things the coaching staff and some of the people here are harping on is with mental reps and actual, physical game reps or practice reps, your brain doesn’t necessarily know the difference,” Turner said.
“If you’re standing behind and watching something and you’re telling yourself that you’re doing something, that’s kind how you tap into another level and another aspect of this game to help take your game to the next level. That’s one of the things that they’re kind of harping on with these younger players who may not get as many reps.”
And that should help for Turner — especially given his high level of scheme familiarity and comprehension.
The plan remains for Turner to be the right tackle. Calvin Anderson started there Saturday, and Cameron Fleming is also in the mix as potential depth. But moving around the offensive line has been part and parcel of Turner’s career to date.
So, he wouldn’t be surprised if the tap on the shoulder comes, guiding him to another spot up front.
“Every time I think I’m playing one position, I end up at another,” Turner said. “So, there is time. I can go and play any of those positions kind of at the drop of a hat.
“It’s kind of how my career has been, and more than anything, it’s just going to be getting back on the field, getting a feel for the tempo, the movement, the timing of everything, and once I kind of get that back, it doesn’t really matter what position I’m at.”
SCHOBERT SETTLES IN
With Jonas Griffith looking at a 4-to-6-week absence because of a dislocated elbow, the Broncos signed Sedalia resident and 7-year NFL veteran Joe Schobert on Monday … and he immediately stepped into a significant workload.
But it was nothing that Schobert couldn’t handle. In Cleveland from 2016-20, he grew accustomed to annual scheme changes.
“He’s a veteran out here,” said fellow inside linebacker Josey Jewell. “He’s seen a lot of play, whether it be in Cleveland, Jacksonville or the Steelers. So, he knows what he’s doing, so it was fun to get out here today — even though it was a totally new defense for him. So, a lot of communication need out there, but he did a great job with the first day, and he brings some leadership to the team.”
The big thing for Jewell is adjusting to the communication level that Schobert wants. Every inside linebacker is different.
“It’s different communication — if they want to communicate a lot pre-snap or not,” Jewell said. “I communicate a lot pre-snap. So, we’ll just get used to each other — whether it be him or Alex [Singleton] or Justin [Strnad], whoever goes in there with me. Just get used to them, their style of play, how they fit the run and we’ll go from there.”
For Schobert, the challenge isn’t mental as much as it is physical. Training at a gym in Highlands Ranch helps; he doesn’t have the same adjustment to mile-high elevation that other players would. But the catch-up to other players with full camp workloads in recent weeks is undeniable.
“I know what it takes to go and play a game for 60 minutes against any team in this league. It’s not a mental aspect as much as it is the physical and the timing part—getting back into the groove of football,” he said.
“These other guys out here have had a two-and-a-half to three-week head start on me. It’s time to pick up and recover that ground as I go on as quick as possible.”
- CB K’Waun Williams practiced and made an impact on the first play of the initial team period, forcing and recovering a fumble. He poked the football out from Javonte Williams as the second-year RB swept right, subsequently pouncing on the loose ball.
- RB Melvin Gordon returned to practice after missing time last week with a foot issue.
- S Justin Simmons had an end-zone interception of Russell Wilson during a red-zone period. However, the play would have been a sack in game conditions, as Dre’Mont Jones burst through the line with heavy pressure.
- Edge rusher Bradley Chubb also had pressure that would have been a likely sack, working past Garett Bolles’ inside shoulder to get to Wilson in the backfield.
- CB Michael Ojemudia and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell practiced after being evaluated for possible concussions during Saturday’s preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
- CB Damarri Mathis had a stellar day. Highlighting his work was a touchdown-saving pass breakup where he swatted away a pass intended for Seth Williams. Mathis also had step-for-step coverage on Brandon Johnson a deep pass down the left sideline, preventing a completion from Wilson.
- Denver’s No. 1 offense scored a touchdown in the first move-the-ball two-minute period of the day. The offense capped a 65-yard march with a 26-yard Wilson-to-Courtland Sutton touchdown connection. Setting up the play were a pair of Wilson passes to Javonte Williams and Sutton. Jerry Jeudy also had an over-the-shoulder grab of a perfectly-placed deep pass by Wilson down the right sideline.
- That was Jeudy’s second one catch of the day. Earlier in practice, he got open past K’Waun Williams for a deep reception from Wilson down the right side.
- CB Pat Surtain II closed practice with a flourish, swatting away a deep attempt from Wilson to Jeudy to end the final move-the-ball period.
The Broncos return to the practice field Tuesday morning. The session is closed to the general public.