ENGLEWOOD, Co.—The second week of Denver Broncos training camp resumed on Monday morning and there was a significant increase in fan attendance for practice open to the public. I had the pleasure of interacting with many Mile High Huddle fans that traveled many hours and states to get a glimpse of their 2021 Broncos with the hopes of winning football returning to the Mile High city.
Monday was the last day of camp practice before the pads come on, so it’s time to review which players shined on Day 5, the seemingly last ‘light’ practice of camp.
If you checked social media over the past weekend, you’d immediately see the masses piling on Teddy Bridgewater’s horrendous Saturday practice that was not open to the public. After drawing criticism from head coach Vic Fangio, ‘Steady Teddy’ continuously checked down and tossed multiple interceptions from batted balls at the line of scrimmage. Here's how Day 5 shook out between Bridgewater and Drew Lock.
QB Competition: Day 5
Bridgewater: Monday, the 28-year-old veteran continues to wear an orange hoodie in the near 90-degree heat and started practice by throwing a beautiful touchdown pass to WR Diontae Spencer on his first rep of team drills. On the very next play, Bridgewater threw a laser to WR Tim Patrick on a short crossing route that failed to connect, largely due to the timing of the receiver's cut on the route.
From there, Teddy had a familiar hiccup throwing an interception to LB Curtis Robinson on the first rep of 7-on-7, leaving many to wonder whether this was a sign of things to come for the day. Instead, Bridgewater delivered back-to-back completions to WR Courtland Sutton, who finished every rep in the end zone in an effort to energize Broncos Country on the hill.
This was critical for Bridgewater to execute, as both QBs, for the most part, did not bounce back from their mistakes in subsequent reps. Later, the former Louisville QB found WR Jerry Jeudy and RB Levante Bellamy on multiple touchdowns in both team and 7-on-7drills.
Lock: The third-year signal-caller started practice going 2-for-2 after an accurate bubble screen, followed by throwing a dime to TE Noah Fant. After those two throws, the running game was largely implemented before Lock was introduced to rookie CB Patrick Surtain II in 7-on-7 drills.
Lock threw an interception directly to Surtain in the middle of the field as he was hoping to connect with a receiver on a crossing route. While many in Broncos Country cheered the former Alabama star’s first camp interception, there was some slight hesitation from other fans who were quick to criticize the poor decision.
One play later, Lock underthrew his receiver before bouncing back with consecutive completions, hitting WR KJ Hamler and RB Melvin Gordon. Both QBs threw interceptions and touchdowns on Monday, but the last play of the day is what sealed Lock's fate on the day-to-day scoreboard.
Lock was picked off by the newly-signed DB Rojesterman Farris. Before I could react to which receiver was being targeted, Coach Fangio blew the airhorns, signaling the conclusion of practice.
I can’t help but feel that Monday was eerily similar to the first day of training camp with both QBs very close in terms of competition. Both men made boneheaded mistakes but were also able to recover and reignite the offense in team periods.
There were also multiple errors made by tight ends and receivers on Day 5 on catchable balls from both QBs that should have resulted in first downs. I’m hoping that when the team dons pads on Tuesday, the intensity of this QB competition heats up because neither Lock or Bridgewater are breaking away or stealing the show.
Teddy recovered with a slight win on Day 5. While today was only the first day of the second week of camp, I can’t help but feel that the Broncos Coaching Staff needs to implement designated reps that are not 50/50.
Whether that means Lock takes 60 percent of team reps on Tuesday and Bridgewater shares the lion's share on Wednesday — or starting to lean towards a QB garnering a slight majority of snaps — this team needs action. That action should come in the form of the coaching staff putting pressure on each man with heavy workloads to see how each responds to what’s being asked of them.
While neither Lock nor Bridgewater will be getting sacked or tackled on Day 6, one QB needs to prove that he can string together multiple days of success, rather than the sporadic rollercoaster that I've seen thus far.
Bradley Chubb Returns to Take First-Team Reps
After undergoing ankle surgery in May and missing Denver’s offseason training program, Chubb was finally in the starting lineup on Monday. Last week, he was seen running gassers and wind sprints off to the side during the beginning phase of camp.
The 25-year-old pass rusher is coming off his first Pro Bowl nod and subsequently had his fifth-year option exercised by the Broncos this past spring. That means Chubb needs to have a monster year to prove to both his team and himself that injuries won't hinder his innate ability to rush the passer.
After all, Chubb tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2019 season and his career can be chalked up to being snake-bitten. As ecstatic as I was to see Chubb on the field at the same time as Von Miller, it didn’t last long.
The former 2018 first-round pick saw approximately two to three series before being pulled, indicating that the Broncos' training staff has him on a snap count right now. I’d imagine that Chubb will be slowly introduced into the lineup the rest of the week as pads come on, emphasizing the rehabilitation and preventive measures of returning from injury.
Quinn Meinerz’ Training Camp Stock on the Rise
The rookie offensive lineman has seen a significant amount of playing time in Broncos Camp. While some were quick to speculate that the Wisconsin-Whitewater sensation was drafted to replace center Lloyd Cushenberry III, Meinerz is seeing time at both left guard and center. Last week, OL Austin Schlottmann took second-team reps at center, with Meinerz settling into the same left guard role he had in college.
However, towards the end of last week and even more so on Day 5, Lock and Bridgewater both took snaps from Meinerz. No, Cushenberry is not going to be replaced this year. Heck, Meinerz just taught himself the center position last winter and while I’m hearing nothing but glowing reviews from inside UCHealth Training Center, there is a major rookie learning curve to playing center. If you don’t agree with that, then review the 2020 film where Cushenberry started every game as a rookie.
On Monday, I observed Meinerz continually moving interior defensive linemen with not only his raw brute strength but also savvy technique including leverage and angles; aspects that have clearly been coached up since I watched him this past January at the Senior Bowl. Meinerz’s powerful hands and striking have to be the most impressive part of his game.
One former Broncos' offensive lineman that played in Super Bowl XLVIII previously told me that Meinerz's hand placement is some of the best he’s ever seen from an interior lineman, let alone a rookie. So, while it’s fun to call him 'The Belly,' there’s nothing cute about Meinerz's mentality of playing the nastiest position on the offensive line
McTelvin Agim Bursting onto the Scene
I first met former Agim was when he played in the Shrine Bowl prior to the 2020 NFL draft. While the soft-spoken and extremely intelligent defensive lineman impressed me with his humility, his aggressive style of play in the trenches contradicted that impression and caught the attention of the Broncos. Agim was drafted with pick 95 (Round 3) in 2020, something that’s easy for him to recall as he slated his jersey with the same number.
While he was largely a rotational player in 2020, he logged eight tackles and one tipped pass his rookie season. Last week, he was batting down passes from the line of scrimmage, one of which he intercepted, and was extremely disruptive to Bridgewater on Day 4. On Monday, Agim capitalized on the momentum he built last week and was consistently penetrating the interior offensive line, bottling up running backs.
A strong D-lineman with exceptional use of balance, Agim can athletically slide laterally in the trenches and on any given rep, he can be seen running players out of bounds and finishing plays with great hustle and effort. His consistent, playmaking style of defense couldn’t come at a better time for the Broncos' defensive line after starting nose tackle Mike Purcell suffered an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of commission for a couple of weeks.
Broncos Country should feel extremely excited about Agim, who has many shades of teammate and fellow trenchman Shelby Harris to his game.
Day 5 Notes
- LB Josey Jewell did not practice and was observed working out on the side (groin).
- DL Mike Purcell did not practice (ankle).
- ILB Josh Watson had several nice run-defense reps in addition to zone coverage assignments, something the former CSU Ram needs to make this team.
- CB Parnell Motley won a key battle against Courtland Sutton that may have saved his job for a time after a brutal first week covering Jerry Jeudy and Patrick.
- DL Dre’Mont Jones finally made his presence felt with superb run defense and O-line penetration.
- LB Curtis Robinson’s interception off of Bridgewater could earn him more reps with Jewell sidelined.
- OT Calvin Anderson took snaps as swing tackle (LT and RT).
- DB Rojesterman Farris' first practice as a Bronco saw pick off a pass.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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