Broncos Notes


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Jan 22, 2006
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Notes: Staying on Schedule
By Andrew Mason

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For a second consecutive year, the Broncos had the early July spotlight all to themselves.

With the majority of NFL teams conducting their mini-camps in May and a slew of others doing so in June, the Broncos continued to swim against the offseason scheduling current in the NFL but holding theirs just three weeks before the start of training camp on July 28.

"I like it, and I think the players enjoy it -- and the reason why I say that is because they're going to be working out anyhow," Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. "I think it's a good changeup instead of just running and lifting, and I think it's good for the coaches to come back after being gone for a couple of weeks -- just to kind of tune things up and not be away from the players for five weeks."

Because no other teams have chosen to mimic the Broncos' scheduling as of yet, Denver's remains the latest mini-camp in the NFL by a two-week margin over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' June 20-22 session.

"I'm not too interested in what other teams are doing," Shanahan said. "I liked the way it worked and I think it worked good for our preseason and obviously our (2005) season was fairly effective."

GROUPINGS: Corey Jackson and Elvis Dumervil with the first-team nickel defense. Ebenezer Ekuban lining up at tackle with the No. 2 nickel package. Karl Paymah lining up as the nickel back on the first unit. These were some of the assignments that caught onlookers' eyes at mini-camp this past week.

But defensive coordinator Larry Coyer cautioned that one shouldn't read too much into such designations.

"That means nothing," Coyer said. "Guys are working around and we'll get a look at them. We'll see when the pads go on. I think it'll be critical in the preseason games to see where we're at."

Coyer can afford to have some offseason flexibility. His defense returns almost completely intact from last year, with 10 of his starting 11 players from the end of the season back with the Broncos; only defensive end Trevor Pryce is missing after being released in February and eventually signing with the Baltimore Ravens.

However, Coyer noted it was "hard" to pinpoint specific young or new players who have made particularly strong strides during the organized team activities and the mini-camp practices.

"We're fairly familiar. I think you've got to look out for a guy like Hamza (Abdullah) at safety, who's making a move," Coyer said. "Nate Webster and Kenard Lang, we'll get a good look at those guys to see where they are, but we have to see.

"(Minicamp) is really a beginning deal where we install, install, install, and then we should be ready to click."

Coyer and the defensive assistant coaches spent time breaking down the players' efforts at the minicamp and organized activities, but the most important work is yet to come.

"There was a little bit of evaluation, but not like it will be (at training camp)," he said.

PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR: Ashley Lelie was the only unexcused absentee from the mandatory minicamp, and the high participation rate simply reflected what the Broncos have enjoyed throughout the voluntary offseason workouts, which began in early April.

"We've had great participation in the offseason program -- about 98 percent attendance, which is quite unusual, and the best we've ever had here," Shanahan said. "That's what you keep on hoping for -- guys improving and working out. The first phase of success in the season is having a great offseason and so far, we've been able to accomplish that."
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