2022 Broncos Training Camp: Day 1 news and notes

Quarterback Russell Wilson, Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, and the rest of the Denver Broncos hit the practice field today to officially kick off training camp and the start of the 2022 season. There is a lot of optimism around this team because of the addition of Russell Wilson and their first steps toward a Super Bowl run began today.

Today we have Russell Wilson, linebacker Jonas Griffith still looking good, rookie Montrell Washington standing out, the Broncos defense wins the day, reserve safety P.J. Locke also standing out, news and notes, injury updates, quotes, and more.

Russell Wilson

Today, the Denver Broncos hit the practice field to begin their training camp process and so did quarterback Russell Wilson. After six long years of poor quarterback play, the Broncos once again have a top quarterback and high expectations for the 2022 NFL season.

With Wilson in a new city, with a new team, and practicing with the Broncos during training camp for the first time, Wilson was asked if his “head was spinning” from all of this. The Broncos franchise quarterback predictably answered, “not at all”.

“No, not at all. I’m super focused and lasered in. Everybody is so locked in. For example, we had an early morning walk-through—me and the guys—and we were just getting that work in. Guys are lasered in, ready to work, and willing to do everything that we have been doing all OTAs and all summer. Even in California, we were putting the work in with just that bonding time and it really showed today. Defense looked great, the offense looked great, and special teams, too. It was just a great first day. To be where we are and to have a new head coach like Coach Hackett, we are so far along. We are going to be really prepared. That’s a tremendous acknowledgment to our leadership of guys; Justin Simmons, ‘K-Jack’ and so many other guys. Even the new guys coming in—D.J. . Even just him coming in, and upfront what he means to us. Obviously, our receiving core and what those guys have been putting in with Courtland, Tim, Jerry, and those guys leading the way. We saw Javonte, we saw Melvin Gordon, ground the rock today, and how intense they are and how they practice at a championship level. We got a championship kind of football team, and we are excited about that. The exciting part about that is now it’s time to just go show up and prove it.”

it started out slow for Wilson because the Broncos’ defense came out ready to play, but he got it going as the practice went on. They were doing a lot of red zone work and Russ hit backup tight end Cody Saubert twice for a touchdown.

After a tough start for the offense, Russ did finish strong and hopefully, we see that carry over into tomorrow’s practice.

The back and forth and intensity between the offense and defense reminded Wilson of a regular season game.

“It felt like a game, to be honest with you. We were getting after it. Ones versus ones and just to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with the speed of it all. That’s how we practiced all OTAs, for the most part. It was just high level. This is why it’s so great to be here—just because of the high level of practice guys are putting into it. Any time you want to be successful, you have to put the work in. There’s no magic pill, no hidden tricks, no nothing. It’s just, ‘Are you going to do the work, are you going to do everything it takes and are you going to sacrifice every single day?’ That’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’ve done. What we did today doesn’t mean anything tomorrow. I’m excited about it and it was so cool to see the fans out here today, too. This is my first time and my first practice [in front of them]. I feel like it was my rookie year all over again, but I’ve got about 3,475 days of experience on top of it. It feels all brand new, but also something I’ve always dreamed of—just continue to do what I love to do. Every day, I get to focus on joy and loving the game I get to play. I’m grateful to be here. Thank you, guys, so much and Go Broncos. Let’s Ride.”

We are grateful that you are here as well Russ. Let’s go Broncos and Let’s Ride!

Jonas Griffith continues to look good

One Broncos player who had a strong end of the 2021 season and has continued it through the offseason and now into training camp is linebacker Jonas Griffith. The linebacker who the Broncos acquired from the 49ers during cutdowns last year is now in a position to earn a starting job on the Broncos’ defense.

Griffith, who is fighting for a starting job with veteran free agent signing Alex Singleton. He had a strong finish to the 2021 season where he emerged as a consistent player for the Broncos’ defense has carried over his success into the offseason and now into the first day of camp.

He was making plays in coverage with multiple PBU’s while also showing off his range and read and react ability to smother ball carries.

Griffith is a player we are going to see consistently in these camp reports in the coming days and weeks.

Montrell Washington stands out

One Broncos pick that was universally questioned during the 2022 NFL Draft was the selection of wide receiver/kick returner Montrell Washington. Most draftnik’s graded him as a UDFA and he ended up going in the fifth round. So, there was some outrage, confusion, and second-guessing there. However, after one practice, the rookie Montell Washington created plenty of positive buzz about him.

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson singled out the rookie receiver/returner Montrell Washington during his after-practice presser. He mentioned how the rookie showed up 15 minutes early and was ready to do some “prehab” and participate in a walkthrough with Wilson and others.

“For a guy like [WR] Montrell Washington—I was here this morning, and I was here early. I’m going into the weight room and everything else and I told him, ‘Hey, we’re going to go through this walk-thru early in the morning,’ to spend a little extra time on everything. He was 15 minutes early, just doing his prehab work. As a rookie, being able to see that, to be able to show them that and to be able to experience that and continue to encourage them to do that, that is what is going to make the difference for his career and so many other guys. That’s just a small example…”

Then, Washington went out and had himself a solid practice. He caught a touchdown, looked the best on returns, and looked to, for now at least, silent the doubters of his selection.

Sure, the pads aren’t on and we have players who stand out in these padless practices and then disappear when the pads do indeed come on. However, it is nice to see Washington get this praise from Wilson after one practice and then also have a standout practice.

Broncos’ defense played well

All the talk this offseason was about Russell Wilson, the Broncos’ weapons, Javonte Williams, and Nathanial Hackett’s offensive scheme. This led to the Broncos’ defense to enter camp with a big chip on their shoulder and prove why they are one of the better defenses in the league once again.

According to reporters attending practice, the Broncos defense won the day today. They were quick. explosive, and swarming to the ball carrier.

Broncos edge rusher Bradley Chubb was asked if having days like this against an offense that figures to be explosive and against a quarterback like Russell Wilson gives them confidence moving forward. He responded it gave them “huge confidence”.

“Huge confidence, especially when we’re going out there and doing everything we have to do. When we have success on our side of the ball, we see that it’s against an elite quarterback. It’s not against just any guy. It’s an elite quarterback that we’re having success against. We’re building that confidence each and every day.”

The Broncos’ defense is going to need to play well this season, so a strong start to camp is promising to see.

Now, this doesn’t mean the offense struggled. They flashed and made plays as well, but the Broncos’ defense was disruptive, was getting after Wilson, and causing turnovers. This was a non-padded practice, but this is the sort of thing we need to see from both sides. It will make each side better as they progress through the summer and into the regular season.

P.J. Locke, a name to watch?

Another player who appears to be coming into their own is safety P.J. Locke. He was a key member of the Broncos’ special teams unit last year and now is showing he can be a factor on the defensive side of the ball as well.

This is a player that has been getting positive reviews all offseason and now it continued into training camp. He’s fighting for a roster spot but is likely a key member of the Broncos’ special teams unit. However, he is showing he can be a contributor on defense if needed.

With the safeties likely to be utilized more in this defense, Locke could be one injury away from potentially playing a significant amount of snaps for the Broncos’ defense. So, he will be a player we need to focus on as we move forward through training camp and into the preseason.

Injury Updates

  • Edge rusher Randy Gregory, tackle Billy Turner, and wide receiver K.J. Hamler remained on the PUP list. Also, UDFA rookie edge rusher Christopher Allen did not practice because he is on the NFI list.
  • The rookie tight end, Greg Dulcich, worked off to the side after the stretching period. He suffered an injury that sidelined him for the last two weeks of the offseason program. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said that they are going to ease him into action.
  • Veteran offensive lineman Tom Compton had a back procedure and will go on the PUP

News and Notes

Tweets From Camp

Notable Quotes

Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett on his thoughts on the offense and defense in the red zone

I love the competitiveness. It’s funny [because] as clean as a touchdown as it might be, there is people still saying it’s not a touchdown, and if we think it is a touchdown then people are doing everything they can to say it’s not. That’s what you want, and that’s what you love. I think it’s great, especially on Day 1. It’s a marathon like we have been talking about. You don’t want to get big, long fields right out of the gate. I think it’s so important to shorten the field. We have a shorter practice, so we just want to get in as many reps as we can within the time frame and work the most important area of the field.”

Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett on how much input QB Russell Wilson has in what occurs in practice on a daily basis

“We have great communication between all of us. I think that right now, we’re working on the foundation of everything and there is a system that we put in for a very specific reason as we go day-by-day. As we continually go and get a feel for what we’re good at and what he likes, that’s when we’ll start focusing on that. We’re constantly talking all the time about everything—new adjustments, new things that we can do—just like during a week.”

Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett on having some of the second and third-team players running through extra plays at the end of Wednesday’s practice

“Whenever you’re working through these things, you’re always really focused on two groups because you want to jump from one thing to—I get bored fast, so I want to jump from one thing to the other, move around, move the field and do all that stuff. Sometimes, there are some guys who don’t get enough reps, so I’ve always liked—and we started doing this a while back. Now, I like to just be focused on the guys that may not have gotten as many reps. Let’s face it, those guys are going to have a lot of opportunities in the preseason, so we want them to be ready. That’s why we do that.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson on his relationship with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett

I think [Head] Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett and I—our bond is so strong. Our communication and his understanding of the game—the why’s of the game, the history of the game. He’s a guru at it. I love studying the game like crazy, too, going all the way back in the day with the west coast offense and just studying that as well, with [Pro Football Hall of Fame QB] Joe Montana, [Pro Football Hall of Fame WR] Jerry Rice, [Pro Football Hall of Fame QB] Steve Young and those guys to studying just how we do it and what we are thinking about and why. Every meeting, every detail, every practice meeting, and everything you do out here there is for a reason. Just setting that up has been fun. It’s been a joy to work with Coach Hackett. It’s been a joy to work with [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Justin] Outten and [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks] Coach [Klint] Kubiak as well. Those guys are great.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson on the intangibles for a championship-quality team

“To be a championship team, you have to have talent. That’s the first thing. We have a lot of talent. Guys coming in and out—defensive line, offensive line, the tight ends, the receivers, and the defense. We’re so young, and that’s really exciting to be on that kind of level of team. The second thing is you have to have knowledge of the game. Our knowledge of the game is so far along. The experience we have on the defensive side and the experience we have even on the offensive side. It starts with me passing all that knowledge around and for them to take it all in and for them to sit in the front of the room and take notes. What I love is how our receivers sit in the front of the room, taking notes and highlighting. [WR] Jerry Jeudy was in our QB meeting for an hour just for fun and just to listen and just to study and understand it all. That’s a credit to him and his work ethic. When you have guys like that and your best players put that type of work in, that just rises everyone else to be better. It’s so great to see that and experience that. The other thing is you have to have a vision. Everybody wants to do big things and everything else. Vision is great, but you need to have execution as well. The balance of those two is really key to understand what it takes. Then, at the end of the day, your mindset has to be right. We have to have that mindset no matter what the circumstance are, no matter what the scoreboard is and no matter what people are writing—good or bad—because a lot of time you can be on the highest of highs. To balance that, remain neutral and not get too high, not get too low, but just keep working, keep putting your head down and keep going. That’s our mentality. We’re really doing that, we’re really learning that every day, we’re practicing that every day, we’re working at it every day and that’s the great thing about us.”

Edge Rusher Bradley Chubb on the personal goals he has for himself

“I keep my goals to myself, but for the most part, I just want to finish this year out healthy and be able to provide for this team as much as I can. [I want to] go through everything—through the highs, through the lows—and make sure I’m the same mellow-headed guy every single day and give it my best every single day. That’s my main goal. I keep those statistical goals to myself.”

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