“We were just so locked in”


During their six-year playoff drought, the Broncos’ offense finished 22nd, 27th, 24th, 28th, 28th and 23rd in points per game. They always played uphill, generally kicked themselves in the shins with mistakes and usually lost.

Contrast that to Thursday’s joint practice against the Dallas Cowboys.

Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Albert Okwuegbunam and Kendall Hinton made fine catches.

Javonte Williams darted through openings in the line for what would have been first-down gains.

And the operation — center/quarterback snap exchange, penalties, etc. — was mostly clean save for the two-minute drill.

Those positives left quarterback Russell Wilson even more upbeat than normal about the state of the Broncos’ offense.

“It was a great day for us,” Wilson said after the Broncos’ 14th training camp practice. “All the work you’ve put in collectively as a group — all the early mornings, the walk-throughs at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., all the late nights, all the communication, all the work — it really showed (Thursday), I thought.

“We were just so locked in. We had a blast.”

On a day where the air felt like a blast furnace (temperatures in the high 90s), it required a locked-in mindset. The Cowboys’ offense, led by quarterback Dak Prescott, had it on the north field. The Broncos’ offense, led by Wilson, had it on the south field.

Wilson completed his first three passes in 11-on-11 work, but coach Nathaniel Hackett emphasized the run game against the Cowboys’ 4-3 defensive front (the Broncos had spent camp going against their 3-4 defense).

The practice work was important for Wilson and the first-team offense because Saturday’s preseason opener against the Cowboys is likely to feature only the back-ups.

“I’m ready to do whatever,” Wilson said when asked if he would like to play.

Wilson played in the exhibition season every year from 2012-19. There was no preseason in ’20 and he didn’t see any action last year.

If Wilson is a healthy scratch Saturday, it meant Thursday was time for a progress report of the new-look offense.

“Probably further (along than expected),” Wilson said. “We’re really far along. It’s impressive to see. I give credit to the guys. The investment they’ve put in, it’s all about them and what they’ve done. It’s been a joy to work with them every day.”

But there has been adversity. Wilson met with the media for the first time since July 27. Since then, the Broncos lost receiver Tim Patrick to a torn ACL.

“It was devastating to see him go down,” Wilson said. “Tim has been a true pro ever since I got here, a leader in the locker room, a leader on the field, a leader in every way he’s gone about it. He’s overcome so much in his life, he’s a winner, he’s a competitor and he’s a champion. I know we’re going to work our butts off every day because he always did.”

Patrick’s injury, though, will create more opportunities for Sutton and Jeudy.


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