BRONCOS

Chubb and Sutton offer a glimpse of what’s possible for the Broncos

Sep 6, 2022, 3:40 PM
Courtland Sutton...
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Denver Broncos opened the gates at UC Health Training Center on Tuesday for their first open practice to the media of the 2022 regular season. It was good to get back out there for regular season practice, and it seems like forever since we’ve been able to do that in the media.

They are preparing for a road game in Week 1 on Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks. The starters (most of them) did not play in the preseason, so we’ll get to see most of the top Broncos for the first time in their latest incarnation. The run at a Super Bowl in 2022 starts now.

Here are my notes from Tuesday’s practice.

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Looking for Nuggets

We honestly don’t get to see much during the media portion of practice during the regular season. It’s basically a stretching period with a few drills after that. As someone who has covered this team as a credentialed media member since 2004, I know how to look for the nuggets of information.

The first nugget I noticed was that inside linebacker Jonas Griffith was out there for the media portion of practice. He suffered an elbow injury early in the preseason and has been on the road to recovery ever since. It was unknown if Griffith would be ready for the start of the regular season, and that’s why the Broncos tried to find some help at the ILB position. He didn’t do much, nobody did during warm up, but it is a good sign for his availability against the Seahawks that Griffith was out there on the first day.

K.J. Hamler has incredible upside when he’s healthy. He’s been coming back from the knee/hip surgery that knocked him out of most of the 2021 season. On Tuesday, Hamler was out there getting it done in drills. He looked as quick and as fast as ever. In fact, Hamler told me a couple of months ago that he’s timed faster than he was before the injury – and I can believe it from watching him practice. Like Griffith, his status for the game is unknown at this time but Hamler is doing everything he can to be ready.

It was so good to be back out there at UC Health Training Center. Regular season practices don’t last long (for the media), but if you know what to look for some interesting observations can be gleaned from them.

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Always on the Hunt

The Broncos have a winner in quarterback Russell Wilson. The trade to bring Wilson to Denver has forever changed the trajectory of this franchise. Once one of the greatest in the league, the Broncos have fallen on bad times over the last six seasons. With Wilson, the standard of winning returns.

When Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton talked to the media on Tuesday, he continued to reveal some interesting things about his quarterback and this team’s new offense. One of my favorite things Sutton said on Tuesday was that his quarterback is looking to score as many touchdowns as possible. Wilson has the ability to extend plays, and when he does it’s not just to move the chains, it’s to attack a defense deep if he can.

This is such a dramatic change from the way things used to be under former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Broncos could barely muster 20 points on a weekly basis, and it took everything they had to do just that. This team used to be focused on playing close and letting the defense win the game. Now, with Wilson under center, the Broncos can focus on boatracing opponents with their offense.

I love how the Broncos are focused on scoring as much as possible. Combine an improved offense with a defense that can get after the quarterback (more on that in a bit), and great things can happen for this Broncos team in 2022.

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The Best Version of Himself

I believe in Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has had one really good season in the pros – his rookie year. Since then, Chubb has struggled with injuries and has failed to play up to his potential for the Broncos. This offseason, Chubb is not coming back from an injury for the first time in what seems like forever, and I think you can tell by his demeanor on and off the field.

Chubb is still intense, both just talking to him and watching him play football. He’s solely focused on his job of wreaking havoc, and with his strength he can do just that. However, I think it’s his confidence that has surged this offseason. Chubb has always believed in himself, and through the struggles of dealing with injury he has an improved perspective on what he wants to do and who he wants to be.

On Tuesday, Chubb talked about being the best version of himself – something I think can happen during the 2022 season for many reasons. The best version of Chubb makes plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. With OLB Randy Gregory on the opposite side of him, Chubb should be able to take advantage of those one-on-one blocks.

Chubb is set to get after the quarterback this year under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. He’s still able to turn the plays inside of him to keep contain, but Chubb’s best assets are skills to rush the passer. Expect the Broncos to send more pressure and for Chubb to push for a career-best number of sacks this season.

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Just Call Him “Mailman”

It was a day for the captains out at UC Health Training Center on Tuesday. The Broncos put out some of their leaders to talk about the team and the prospects for the 2022 season. Sutton is one of the leaders, even if he’s not the most vocal of leaders, but he shed some more light on the type of leader Wilson is.

Sutton says that Wilson doesn’t act like a vociferous leader, but he does know how to send a message to his teammates – and they listen intently. Great leaders are first great communicators. You need to know how to talk to individuals as people are motivated differently. It sounds like Wilson has his finger on the pulse of communicating correctly with his teammates.

Next, a great leader must also be a great listener. For the guys to listen to Wilson, he first himself must listen to them. It’s that type of listening skill that can build trust and build belief in a leader. From what Sutton said on Tuesday, Wilson has to be a great listener for his teammates to hang on his words as well.

There is a distinct feeling these players don’t want to let Wilson down. It’s that sort of reliability the Broncos have not had in the past several seasons. Players didn’t want to let Peyton Manning down, and it led to greatness with two Super Bowl appearances and a championship. I believe it’s that same motivation for the Broncos, now with Wilson, that could lead to multiple Super Bowl appearances in the near future.

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Chubb and Sutton offer a glimpse of what’s possible for the Broncos