Raiders Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
11:00
PM ET
NAPA, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming of of Oakland Raiders training camp:
  • Charles Woodson has always been a fan favorite of Raider Nation and he endeared himself further on Thursday. First, he celebrated mightily an interception of Matt Schaub along the left sideline by running into the stands to revel in the pick with the fans. It was a high-arcing floater that was easily Schaub's worst throw of camp, granted, in real time he would have been sacked by Khalil Mack so he threw up a duck instead. One play later, Woodson picked off Schaub again, stepping in front of a bullet to the left flat, and, yes, taking it to the house for a , wait for it, pick-six. "I know how this whole thing is going to work," bristled Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Anytime Schaub throws an interception, everybody's going to want to try to hit the panic button and act like the sky is falling ... I'll let you guys push the panic button. I'm not going to. He's still doing a great job." So there.
  • It was the third straight practice in pads -- the Raiders were off Tuesday -- and it was also the chippiest and hardest-hitting practice of camp thus far. No, there have not been any fights ... yet, but we finally got a glimpse of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack's power. Tight end Mychal Rivera had the task of blocking Mack on a handoff to Darren McFadden, but Mack popped Rivera so hard he ran into McFadden in the backfield.
  • Austin Howard returned to practice a day after leaving early with a tight back and showed no ill effects. In fact, the 6-foot-7, 330-pounder looked the part of an absolute beast as a pulling right guard. In one drill, he swallowed up Mack and cleared space for Maurice Jones-Drew to pick up a sizeable gain.
  • A day after LaMarr Woodley gave right tackle Menelik Watson the business, fellow defensive end Justin Tuck was putting on an exhibition against left tackle Donald Penn. Yes, you could say the defense won the day, because besides Woodson's two picks of Schaub, safety Brandian Ross also had an interception of rookie Derek Carr. And rookie Jonathan Dowling had an interception in individual drills. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was more than pleased following practice.
  • Linebacker Kaelin Burnett called his hard hit on running back George Atkinson III a "get-back shot" for a blow the rookie delivered to Burnett a few days earlier on what was supposed to be a slower walkthrough kickoff return drill. "I said, ‘I'm going to get him back,'" Burnett said with a smile. "Nah, we're all just out here competing to make us all better."
  • Receiver Juron Criner (hamstring), linebackers Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) and Marshall McFadden (hip) and safety Usama Young (quad) worked on the side with a trainer before practice. Receiver Greg Little (hamstring) did not participate, nor did defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason and tweaked his groin on Wednesday. Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson (hamstring) came off the non-football injury list and practiced for the first time.
  • The Raiders practice again Friday at 3 p.m. PT

Broncos Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
9:45
PM ET
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Denver Broncos training camp:
  • The Broncos have found some pro personnel gems in recent seasons, veteran players signed to short-term deals with injury or performance questions in tow, who play their way into the rotation in Denver. Last year, Paris Lenon was a training camp signing who eventually started at middle linebacker. In 2012, it was safety Jim Leonhard, Justin Bannan and Brandon Stokley who turned a 1-year deals into premium snaps. This year it just might be defensive Marvin Austin, a former second-round pick by the Giants whose career has been de-railed by injuries, including a back injury with the Dallas Cowboys last season. Austin signed a one-year deal with the Broncos earlier this year, and coming off back surgery has said he's healthy and looking for a rebound. He has consistently flashed in practice thus far and dominated one-on-one drills with the offensive linemen Thursday, though he did have two false starts during one of his turns in the rotation. "He's come off of a fairly significant injury and he looks like he's got that explosiveness and quickness he had when he came out of Chapel Hill," said Broncos head coach John Fox. The Broncos, who kept 10 defensive line after cuts in 2011, nine in 2012 and eight last year, could be faced with keeping nine or 10 because of their depth this time around.
  • No. 2 quarterback Brock Osweiler has had some bobbles in this camp as the Broncos defense has turned up the heat on the offense as a whole -- Peyton Manning has had a far more difficult time against the team's re-vamped defense than he did in drills last summer -- but he continues to show plenty of progress as well. Thursday he showed plenty the scoring touch on the deep ball with two in-stride throws for touchdowns to Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, respectively. Latimer's catch was a double-take worthy one-hander in between David Bruton, Omar Bolden and Jerome Murphy as he crossed the goal-line.
  • As the Broncos went through short-yardage work in the run game, the defense got after it. Cornerback Aqib Talib stopped rookie running back Kapri Bibbs short of the goal-line in one set, safety John Boyett cracked rookie Brennan Clay on another and middle linebacker Nate Irving stopped Montee Ball cold in a goal-line drill. “We want to be nasty, we want to be aggressive," said linebacker Danny Trevathan.
  • The Broncos had some of the league's officials on hand for practice as part of the NFL's preseason tour. The players were shown a video outlining this year's rules changes as well as the “points of emphasis," which include downfield contact by defensive players on receivers as well as defensive holding. No flags were thrown on the defenders in coverage in Thursday's practice. The officials will be at Broncos' practices through Saturday's scrimmage at Sports Authority at Mile High.
  • Defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was pulled out of a practice earlier in camp with stiffness in his lower back, was taken out of Thursday's practice as well. Broncos head coach John Fox said; “(He) should be fine, we'll evaluate him day to day." The Broncos also held defensive end Chase Vaughn (right knee), defensive end Greg Latta (right hip) and cornerback Lou Young (groin) out of Thursday's workout. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware (lower right leg) was limited, but did return to the practice field for the first time since Sunday.
  • The Broncos have one practice Friday -- at 10:25 a.m. MT.
SAN DIEGO -- Middle linebacker Manti Te'o hauled in an interception in the flat during team drills Wednesday and was inches from making a similar play Thursday.

[+] EnlargeManti Te'o
Tony Avelar/AP PhotoManti Te'o's play improved in the second half of his rookie season, and he's working on carrying over that comfort level.
Known for taking the ball away from the offense during his time at Notre Dame, Te'o is getting back to that mindset during the San Diego Chargers' first week of training camp.

Teammate Eric Weddle said those two plays are prime examples of impact plays that Te'o did not have the experience to make in his rookie season, and the reason more is expected from him in 2014.

"Those two plays he would have never done last year, just because he didn't know any better, for one,” Weddle said. "Two, he's letting his instincts take over and his feel of the game. He understands what his role is, and it's awesome to watch.”

Te'o said the learning experience and reps gained his rookie season helped him play faster during training camp. He also said he's fully healthy after offseason surgery to fix a fractured foot that slowed him down his rookie season.

And finally, Te'o worked on sculpting his body and leaning down his 6-1 frame to 235 from 240 pounds, the weight he played at during a standout final season at Notre Dame. Te'o said during his rookie season he hovered around 245 pounds.

"It goes back to my senior year in college,” Te'o said. "When I was leaner, I was able to make sure that reaction time when my mind told my body to move was less. And so my body being in good shape, I'm able to react and move when I want to. So when my eyes see something and I want to break on it, I'm able to do that.”

Weddle has noticed the difference.

"He's light years ahead of last year,” the veteran safety said. "Obviously, it's hard to come in as a rookie and play the way you expect to play. You're thinking so much and you're trying to adjust. It's a different animal. The NFL is no joke.

"You live and learn, and you learn from the good times and the bad times. But with Manti it's never about his work ethic. It's never about him being coachable. It's just about him feeling comfortable.”

Te'o missed most of exhibition play and the first three regular-season games of his rookie season with what was initially reported as a sprained foot. Te'o returned against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 and was immediately placed in the starting lineup.

He showed rust in the first four games, but his overall play improved the second half of the season. Te'o was fifth on the team last year with 61 combined tackles but finished without a sack, interception or forced fumble in his rookie season.

Te'o led Notre Dame with 113 tackles and seven interceptions his final college season, finishing runner-up to Johnny Manziel in voting for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy believes that Te'o can become that type of playmaker again with consistent work at the NFL level.

"He did a nice job last year, but there were times when he played a little slow -- and he'd tell you that from watching the film after the season was over,” McCoy said. "Now he understands the scheme a lot better than he did last year, because he's played. He's definitely playing faster this year, which is what you would expect.”

Te'o says that comfort and experience should lead to a better production in his second season.

"It's all about knowing where I got to be and why I got to be there,” Te'o said. "Knowing how the offense is trying to attack us as a defense, and knowing the different places I got to be at. It's definitely good.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When former Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno had scratched and clawed his way out of the depth chart doghouse to post his best season as a professional in 2013 (1,038 yards rushing and 60 receptions), running backs coach Eric Studesville said this:

Hillman
"I hope guys, young guys, older guys, anybody, look at what Knowshon did for himself, how he worked, how he carried himself to go from where he was to do what he did, and see that's exactly how you handle football adversity."

Well, consider the point taken. In a meeting room where no running back has played more than two seasons worth of games in the NFL, Ronnie Hillman was apparently paying attention.

While Montee Ball is this team's starter and the guy who will lug the rock much of the time, Hillman has the most potential to be a home-run hitter in the run game. Hillman's potential, though, has far outweighed his accomplishments.

Last year he was handed the first crack at the starting job in offseason workouts, but by the time the Broncos rolled into the regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens Hillman had just four carries in that game. By the eighth game of the season, Hillman was a game day inactive and eventually did not play in any of the Broncos' postseason games.

So it could be easy to be jaded about any uptick the Broncos say they see in Hillman's play because last season is still fresh in many people's minds. They've heard about potential before, heard what he could give to the offense.

"But I love what Ronnie has done," Studesville said. "From when we started this spring in April forward, he has been unbelievable. He's a completely different guy in the best possible way and I'm just excited about what he's doing, how he's approaching it, how he's making plays on the field. It's been great. It's been there the whole time, but we're finally seeing the maximum side of it. ... I didn't do a good job of bringing it out, but now we are, he's bringing it out."

During offseason workouts, offensive coordinator Adam Gase said the depth chart behind Ball was "wide open." Since the start of training camp, however, Hillman has been solidly No. 2 in the rotation. C.J. Anderson has nudged himself back into the No. 3 spot, for now, after losing about 20 pounds and rebounding from a sluggish performance in OTAs and minicamp. Rookies Juwan Thompson, Brennan Clay and Kapri Bibbs have also gotten some select carries in the No. 3 spot, while Thompson has had a few with the No. 2 offense in short-yardage work.

But it is an odd twist of fate and roster building that Hillman, who is entering his third season in the league after being a third-round pick by the Broncos in 2012, is the most experienced back on the team. Hillman has flashed his speed to the corner in the run game, the acceleration with a screen pass in his hands and far more willingness to dig in and take on a rusher in pass protection.

"Give a lot of credit to him," Studesville said. "For ... sitting back and looking at two years in the NFL, a talented guy who should be here, who's demonstrated he's got the ability to be here and wasn't playing for whatever reason. And he found a way to turn that around and turn our eyes around ... and we love what we're seeing."

Asked what he's learned along the way and Hillman has been quick to say "that you have to be accountable ... that I probably relaxed a little bit last year when maybe I shouldn't have. It won't happen again ... I come in here every day with a chip on my shoulder."

Hillman has also been savvy enough to add "you have to show it in how you practice and what you do in games. I want to make plays in games that help us do good things."
SAN DIEGO -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of San Diego Chargers training camp:

" Antonio Gates showed he can still make it happen in the middle of the field. The 33-year-old tight end twice beat the first-team defense for big gains during team drills, using soft hands to make an impressive catch against safety Jahleel Addae on a crossing route.

Later during practice, Gates beat Jarret Johnson and Eric Weddle down the sideline for a touchdown. Gates, who did not work at all during the offseason, has looked in shape and explosive through the first week of training camp.

" On the injury front, receiver Vincent Brown missed his fifth straight practice because of a calf injury, and he wore a walking boot on his right foot during practice.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy did not provide an update on the injury, other than saying that Brown would be back in uniform when he’s healthy.

“He has the same diagnosis that he has when he first injured it,” McCoy said. “And he’ll be out there when he’s ready to go.”

Cornerbacks Marcus Cromartie and Brandon Flowers also did not practice. Offensive lineman Jeromey Clary remains on the active, physically unable to perform list.

McCoy said Flowers just had a rest day on Thursday.

Defensive lineman Corey Liuget tweaked his right ankle during one-on-one pass-rush drills, but had it retaped by a trainer and returned to the field. Center Nick Hardwick suffered what appeared to be an elbow injury and did not finish practice.

“I made the decision after he got dinged there to hold him out the rest of the practice,” McCoy said about his starting center. “He wanted to go back in, but we held him out.”

Also, for a second straight day, rookie cornerback Jason Verrett was limited to individual drills. Verrett ran sprints at the end of practice.

" Undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Greg Ducre made a nice interception on an out route intended for receiver Torrence Allen thrown by Brad Sorensen. The former University of Washington player also had a nice pass breakup during team drills later in practice.

Another rookie who continues to make his mark is second-round selection Jeremiah Attaochu, who had back-to-back sacks working with the second unit during team drills.

" Up next: The Chargers practice at 5:50 p.m. ET on Friday in a practice at Chargers Park that is closed to the public. The Chargers hold their annual FanFest on Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium. Doors open at 12:45 p.m. ET.
NAPA, Calif. -- Matt Schaub smirked when asked if all the story lines about his confidence level were amusing to him.

As if it’s ever been a question in the new Oakland Raiders quarterback’s mind.

“Yeah,” he said following Wednesday’s practice, “because you can’t make it anywhere in this game without having confidence through the roof. You’re going to go through ups and downs as a player. It’s [about] how you bounce back from it … how you move forward.

“You’ve got to put everything behind you, whether it’s good or bad. It’s about the next thing in front. I’m just excited about this training camp and to get going with the regular season here shortly.”

You could not really blame observers for wondering, though, after his nightmarish final season as a member of the Houston Texans. It was a campaign in which the two-time Pro Bowler lost his job, started just eight games, was intercepted 14 times and tossed a pick-six in four straight games.

A fresh start to soothe the soul is what the Raiders are banking on and Schaub has impressed thus far in camp, not only with his leadership but with his skills.

After a particularly impressive bullet he threw to Andre Holmes on Monday for a touchdown, a Raiders team official told me, “That looked like a Carson Palmer throw.”

The way defensive lineman Antonio Smith, a former Texans teammate put it, “Schaubby’s getting his mojo back.”

The question, then, did it ever leave?

Again, a fair query, considering how Schaub’s tenure in Houston ended.

“That’s a great compliment, coming from a teammate,” Schaub said. “I’ve known Antonio now six, seven years. For him to say that, it’s one of my guys. We’ve been together through thick and thin.

“You know, I’ve never lost it. It never went anywhere. But for him to notice that, we’re heading in the right direction.”

Much like the offense Schaub led in a two-minute drill near the end of practice on Wednesday, finishing the drive with a touchdown strike to a streaking Denarius Moore across the back of the end zone.

“It’s coming around,” Schaub said. “It’s our second or third time going through the installations since I’ve been a Raider and things start to become second-nature, and especially the more you do them and you understand where your guys are and where they’re going to be and how they run their routes. I’m becoming much more comfortable at things.”

Chiefs Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
2:15
PM ET
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Kansas City Chiefs training camp:


  • Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry was taken off the practice field in a motorized cart with an ankle injury. The extent of Berry’s injury was still being evaluated but it didn’t appear to be serious. Berry walked over to a medical tent adjacent to the practice field under his own power for an initial examination. He soon walked over to the cart and was taken away from the practice field. He did not return to the field before the practice session ended. The Chiefs are thin at safety behind the starters, Berry and Husain Abdullah. Berry was replaced in the starting lineup by an undrafted rookie, Daniel Sorensen. He normally would have been replaced by Sanders Commings. But Commings had surgery Thursday for a broken ankle. Whether or not Berry returns quickly, the Chiefs need to find a veteran safety. They lost veterans Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps from last year’s roster and failed to replace them with a veteran.
  • Veteran cornerback Sean Smith moved back into the starting lineup toward the end of practice, but only because Marcus Cooper was also carted off the field with an injury. Cooper strained a hamstring. The Chiefs are similarly thin at cornerback. They released one starter, Brandon Flowers, during the offseason. Meanwhile, their only cornerback acquisition of consequence was third-round draft pick Phillip Gaines of Rice. Gaines has yet to receive any work with the starters.
  • The Chiefs spent an extensive practice period working inside the 20-yard line. One of the defensive highlights happened when Cooper, before his injury, broke up a pass intended for Dwayne Bowe in the end zone. The offense later retaliated with touchdown passes on consecutive plays, the first from Aaron Murray to Richard Gordon and the other from Alex Smith to Kyle Williams. "There were some good things on both sides," coach Andy Reid said. "We kind of traded back and forth."
  • The Chiefs are sorting through a large group of wide receivers who appear to have legitimate hopes of making the roster. One backup, A.J. Jenkins, left practice early because of a sore hamstring. Two others, Junior Hemingway and Mark Harrison, did not practice, each because of a sore hamstring. Those absences leave more snaps for young players like Frankie Hammond Jr. and Albert Wilson. "I feel the young guys," Reid said. "We’ll keep playing them. Everybody’s playing out here. We’ll give them as many reps as we can. Everybody’s going to play once we get to the first preseason game. It takes a little time to evaluate it." The Chiefs begin the preseason on Aug. 7 against Cincinnati at Arrowhead Stadium.
  • The Chiefs practice again on Friday at 8:15 a.m. CT.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Defensive end DeMarcus Ware returned to practice Thursday after missing two days' worth of practice with a bruised lower right leg. Ware was limited some but participated in some drills.

Ware
Ware suffered his injury Sunday in the team’s practice at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and had not practiced since. He had done conditioning work and looked to be running without any problems during the team's stadium practice Wednesday.

Defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was pulled out of a practice earlier in camp with stiffness in his lower back, was taken out of Thursday’s practice as well.

"(He) should be fine, we’ll evaluate him day to day," Broncos coach John Fox said.

The Broncos also held defensive end Chase Vaughn (right knee), defensive end Greg Latta (right hip) and cornerback Lou Young (groin) out of Thursday’s workout.

Safety John Boyett (back), who had not practiced this week, returned to practice as well. Boyett had a big hit in red-zone drills when he knocked rookie running back Brennan Clay off his feet.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos spent plenty of money trying to add a little more teeth to their defense this offseason.

Included in their ample free-agency haul were safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib. The Broncos wanted players like Ward and Talib because they want to be more physical on defense. The Broncos want to affect opposing wide receivers before those pass catchers get too deep into their routes, something they did not do consistently well last season.

[+] EnlargeTalib
Barry Chin/Getty ImagesFormer Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib was acquired to give the Broncos a more physical presence in the secondary.
But with that the league has also , again, told the officials to make illegal contact –- contact by defensive players in coverage outside the 5-yard chuck zone -- and defensive holding among the “points of emphasis" this season. The Broncos tied for the league lead last season in illegal contact and defensive holding penalties -- 16 combined, 13 for defensive holding -- so this is no small matter for the team on Front Range.

The Broncos will get their first look at what all that might mean Thursday morning when referee Scott Helverson and his crew is on the field for the team’s practice. During his time at the Broncos complex, Helverson will also meet with the players and coaches as well as show the league’s video about the rules changes and those “points of emphasis."

Broncos coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have said they can adjust to how penalties are called if there is some consistency to how the rules are enforced.

“I think a lot has changed even since the owners’ meetings," Fox said. “They [the officials] have had plenty of meetings, they have had their offseason, they began their training camp, so it will be fun to get them in there and visit with the players and show the videos — not just rule changes but even the enforcement and how they are going to attack that in the preseason."

“You want to know how they’re going to call it," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “You know the league wants points, so you just have to play it how they are calling it."
NAPA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have lost 13 straight games in the Eastern Time Zone. But while the Raiders have had a rough go of it on the East Coast, coach Dennis Allen is mixing up his team’s travel schedule in hopes of ending the skid.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt first reported this week that Oakland will travel to East Coast games on Thursday and hold a practice on Friday before a walk-through on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's games, as opposed to traveling all day Friday.

But a Raiders spokesman told ESPN.com that the plan is only in effect for the Raiders’ season opener, at the New York Jets on Sept. 7.

The Raiders also play in the Eastern Time Zone in Week 3, at the New England Patriots, and at the Cleveland Browns in Week 8.

The last time the Raiders won a game played three time zones away was on Dec. 6, 2009, when Bruce Gradkowski led a comeback against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Since then, Oakland has been outscored by a combined 416-225, or lost by an average score of 32-17, in the 13-game losing streak.

The Raiders’ woes in the Eastern Time Zone predate Allen, who has lost eight such games in two seasons. Since December 2002, which is also the last time the Raiders had a winning season, they are 5-30 in the Eastern Time Zone.

Raiders Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
11:57
PM ET
NAPA, Calif . -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Oakland Raiders training camp:


  • Give the offense the win for the day. Closing out the first-team two-minute drills, quarterback Matt Schaub went through his progressions and spied Denarius Moore going right to left across the back of the end zone and hit the receiver with a strike in stride, Moore extended has hands just above his head to haul in the pass. It was as impressive a throw and catch as has been seen in camp thus far. Then, with Derek Carr running the second-team offense and the Raiders inside the 10-yard line, Carr dropped back to pass, felt the pressure coming and took off for the right pylon. Now, no one was going to hit him, but his decisiveness and quickness were impressive. It was the final play of Wednesday’s practice.
  • Rod Streater returned to practice after sitting out Monday with a concussion and pulled a fast one early on by wearing shorts over his padded pants. “I’m good,” he said after practice. “Not foggy. Just had to go through the whole process. But I’ll be out there hitting tomorrow.”
  • During 9-on-9 drills, new converted defensive end LaMarr Woodley was an absolute menace. The longtime former Pittsburgh Steelers 3-4 linebacker was giving second-year right tackle Menelik Watson the business and getting into the offensive backfield with regularity.
  • Tony Bergstrom, the first draft pick of Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen era, was the second-team center for the first time in his career during team drills. Bergstrom was a tackle at Utah but was converted to guard as a rookie. He missed last season after undergoing Lisfranc surgery. Bergstrom looked comfortable snapping the ball until Carr fumbled one. Then Bergstrom sailed another over the rookie QB’s head.
  • Veteran Khalif Barnes supplanted rookie Gabe Jackson at left guard on the first-team offense, seemingly solidifying his hold on a roster spot as a swing lineman. However, Jackson came in at right guard later in practice and was the epitome of a road grader in the 2-minute drill. Jackson was filling in for Austin Howard, whose back stiffened up on him. Allen did not consider Howard’s tweak a major issue, but did say that he thought practice was not “crisp.”
  • Fullback Marcel Reece, who played receiver in college, showed off some of those skills when he went up and over Tyvon Branch to haul in a Schaub pass along the left sideline. Allen suggested that Reece’s 17-pound weight loss might have also contributed to him being more explosive and acrobatic on the play.
  • Receivers Greg Little (hamstring) and Juron Criner (hamstring) both sat out practice, as did safety Shelton Johnson (hamstring) and linebackers Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) and Marshall McFadden (hip), while tight end Jake Murphy returned from a head issue. Veteran defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who underwent sports hernia surgery this summer, left practice early with a groin issue. Also, tight end Nick Kasa (hip) was activated off the physically unable to perform list.
SAN DIEGO -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of San Diego Chargers training camp:


  • Cornerback Jason Verrett, the Chargers' first-round selection, worked in position drills but did not participate in any contact portion of practice on Wednesday as the team returned from a off day on Tuesday. Verrett received full clearance at the beginning of training camp after being a limited participant in offseason workouts coming off of shoulder surgery in March to repair a torn labrum. Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Verrett watching from the sidelines on Wednesday is part of the TCU product’s maintenance plan established at the start of training camp. “It’s all part of the process of him getting back to where we need him to get so that he’s 100 percent,” McCoy said. “He’s working, and doing everything we’re asking him to do right now.”
  • The star of the day was Malcom Floyd. The 6-foot-5 receiver, who is returning from a serious neck injury, made several plays in the passing game including a deep reception during the two-minute drill that set up a touchdown in the red zone on a skinny post against Brandon Flowers toward the end of practice. Floyd dunked the ball over the goal post after the score, which would have resulted in a penalty during a game under a new rule established by the league. “He made some big plays for us, and that’s the type of player Malcom is,” McCoy said. “We’re very fortunate to have him back out here. You feel so good for him because he worked so hard to get back, with the situation he had last year.”
  • Offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris flopped the offensive lineman during practice today -- sometimes in the same series -- with D.J. Fluker and Chris Watt playing left guard and left tackle, respectively, and King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart playing right tackle and right guard. McCoy said the Chargers did the same thing last year in order to build position versatility in anticipation of the inevitable injuries occur during the regular season. Watt, who played left guard for three seasons at Notre Dame, returned to familiar surroundings. “You’re seeing things from different angles and blitzes from different angles and different players at times,” Watt said. “So you’re going against a variety of different guys, which is good. It makes you uncomfortable, which is what you want right now in practice because it will make the games that much easier.”
  • Quotable: “I don’t mind it. It’s only going to make our team better. These hard days in camp, it’s not fun. It’s not meant to be. But at the end of the day it will help you win those games late in the season. When you’re body hurts and nothing is going well, you can think back to camp, and just pushing through it and fighting together," Chargers receiver Eddie Royal, commenting how he felt about practicing for the fourth straight practice in full pads.
  • Former Chargers receiver Anthony Miller was on hand for practice on Wednesday. Also in attendance was LPGA golfer Jennifer Johnson, a longtime Chargers fan and native of Carlsbad, California.
  • Up next: The Chargers practice at 12:20 p.m. ET on Thursday at Chargers Park. Practice is open to the public.

Broncos Camp Report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
7:45
PM ET
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Denver Broncos training camp:


  • Maybe it was the weather, or that Demaryius Thomas still isn’t in the full rotation at wide receiver after missing the first five days of practices, or just the way Broncos defense was aligned Wednesday, but Wes Welker was quarterback Peyton Manning's favorite target in a downpour. Manning consistently worked the ball to Welker in both 7-on-7 and team drills. On a tough weather day the Broncos were at their catch-and-run best on offense. and it was difficult for the defensive players to keep their footing at times. Rookie linebacker Lamin Barrow slipped and fell chasing tight end Jacob Tamme at one point.
  • The practice was the Broncos’ second open-to-the-public session at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Despite the terrible weather and the fact the practice was a on weekday morning -- it started at 11:30 a.m. MT -- there were still 9,207 brave souls who came through the turnstiles. “I’ve got to give a shout-out to those fans," coach John Fox said. “It was very hard conditions to practice in, I thought our team handled it great ... people who don’t have to be here, those Broncos fans are tremendous, to weather all that for two-and-a-half hours." The last of three stadium practices will be Saturday.
  • The Broncos will get their first taste of what the league’s emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding will mean for defensive players, as referee Scott Helverson and his crew will be in the Broncos’ complex starting Thursday. They will give a presentation to the Broncos players and coaches as well as call penalties in practices through the end of the week. “It will be fun to get them in there to visit with the players, show the videos, not just rules changes, but also the enforcement and how they’re going to attack that in the preseason," Fox said. It’s an important time for a team who wants to be more aggressive on defense, particularly in the secondary, where the Broncos have added Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward this past offseason. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said the Broncos can adjust to how things are called as long as there is consistency. The Broncos were tied for the league lead in combined defensive holding and illegal contact penalties (16) last season.
  • Even with Thomas, Welker and Emmanuel Sanders already in the mix, the Broncos believed second-round pick Cody Latimer could find a way in the rotation when they drafted him in May. Latimer, who consistently won the ball on contested catches during his college career, has shown that aggressiveness already in camp. He made a diving catch on a throw from Manning Wednesday after splitting the Broncos' starting safeties and beating fellow rookie Bradley Roby for a grab up the sideline earlier in the day.
  • Undrafted rookie wide receiver Isaiah Burse has gotten plenty of work in the return game thus far. The Broncos signed him following the draft in hopes he could compete for the punt return or kickoff return job -- he had two punt returns for scores for Fresno State last season. Burse has flashed some of those skills while also bobbling a few in the early going but has also quickly learned a lesson of NFL life. “In college and high school I was able to dance. I would cross the field, stop and come back all across the field. The speed here is different ... Here you have to make a cut and go. You’ll be way more success if you just make a cut instead of dancing.’’
  • Odds and ends: The Broncos held DeMarcus Ware (right lower leg) out of Wednesday’s practice. Ware did some conditioning work off to the side and looks poised to return soon ... Kayvon Webster had a pick six on Manning, cutting in front of Welker to snag Manning’s throw ... Rookie cornerback Lou Young left the practice with a groin strain.
DENVER -- Menacing skies and a constant downpour could not dampen an all-smiles day for Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

That’s because a rain-soaked practice at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Wednesday was the first time Harris had worn a pair of shoulder pads since suffering a partially torn left ACL in the Broncos’ Jan. 12 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the AFC divisional playoffs.

And the perpetually-smiling Harris couldn’t have been any happier to be caught out in the rain.

“I know everyone always talks about Adrian Peterson’s comeback, but you all need to talk about my comeback because I came back a lot faster than Adrian Peterson did," Harris said with a laugh. Harris Jr. called it “an emotional day for me."

[+] EnlargeChris Harris, Jr.
AP Photo/Jack DempseyChris Harris Jr., shown during organized team activities in May, is on track in his rehabilitation from ACL surgery.
The fourth-year cornerback has been one of the most significant finds for the current Broncos regime. Harris was one of the last undrafted rookies the team signed following the 2011 draft. He quickly turned heads in his first training camp with his competitiveness and ability to play all over the formation -- none other than Champ Bailey said then Harris was going to stick “for a long time." Harris has grown into one of the defense’s most versatile and most important players.

His absence in both the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLVIII forced the Broncos to mix and match in the secondary and deprived the defense of not only one of the starters at cornerback, but their best slot cornerback as well. Since his injury, Harris has plowed through his rehab and consistently said he would be cleared to practice shortly after training camp began, would be cleared for full contact by the third preseason game and ready for the Broncos’ Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

“I’ve put in a lot of work these past couple of months," Harris said. “I'm just thankful and blessed to be back out here."

Said Broncos coach John Fox: “It was good to have him back out there; I know he was excited."

Harris had his knee repaired Feb. 6, three days after the Broncos’ 45-8 loss in Super Bowl XLVIII. So in just under six months, Harris has worked his way back onto the practice field. The cornerback visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday and was cleared to practice.

The Broncos only let him do limited work Wednesday in slippery conditions -- “they had to slow me down a couple of times, even in walk-through," Harris said -- and he will likely do individual drills and 7-on-7 work in the near future.

Harris is not expected to play in the first two preseason games – against the Seahawks and 49ers – and says he still hopes to play in the third preseason game on Aug. 23 against the Houston Texans. Harris has spent much of the offseason working alongside linebacker Von Miller, who tore his ACL in the Dec. 22 game against the Houston Texans.

“Just competing with him and him being ahead of me helped push me to get where he was faster," Harris Jr. said. “Actually I came back faster because he came back at seven months and I came back at six months. It’s not even six months yet for me, so for me to be back out here this quick is really incredible. Dr. Andrews was ecstatic about my recovery and I am just going to keep taking it slow so I will be ready to go."

Kayvon Webster has lined up at right cornerback in Harris' absence and Aqib Talib has played in the left cornerback spot. Rookie Bradley Roby has come in for the team’s nickel packages, with Webster often moving into the slot.

Harris' return will eventually adjust that rotation with Harris and Talib as the starters, with the hope Roby will be ready to play on the outside in the nickel by the start of the season, when Harris would move into the slot in the specialty packages.

“Just the first step, but it was huge for me," Harris said. “I’ll be back; I’ll be ready for the season, no doubt about it. Just write my name in there."
DENVER – In a driving rainstorm for much of their 2 1/2-hour practice Wednesday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Denver Broncos held defensive end DeMarcus Ware out of the workout.

Ware suffered a bruised lower right leg Sunday in the team’s practice at the stadium and has not practiced since. Broncos head coach John Fox continues to say Ware’s injury is not significant, but field conditions were slippery in an uncharacteristic storm that has dumped rain on the Denver area for the past two days.

Ware did some conditioning work on the side, including sprints.

The Broncos also held out defensive end Chase Vaughn (right knee), defensive end Greg Latta (right hip), safety John Boyett (back) and linebacker Shaquil Barrett (ankle). Cornerback Louis Young left the practice with a groin strain.

With Vaughn and Latta having missed several days of practice, the Broncos signed two defensive linemen Wednesday – Will Pericak and Cody Larsen, both defensive tackles – to bolster their numbers. Pericak played in college at Colorado and had been at some of the offseason workouts as a tryout player.

The Broncos' roster is now at 89 after the two signings.

 

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider