ENGLEWOOD, Colo.- Hundreds of fans lined a sun-scorched knoll at the UC Health Training Center as the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos returned to the field to begin their 2016 training camp.
The smaller-than-expected crowd made up for what they lacked in size with plenty of enthusiasm throughout the day, roaring for players emerging from the tunnel and giving linebacker Von Miller a hearty “MVP” chant as he stepped onto the field.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez, playing in front of Broncos fans for the first time, was happy to have the fans in attendance.
“It was a great turnout,” Sanchez said. “I felt like we had good enthusiasm. Von got the MVP chant; I thought that was pretty cool. It was a great day. We’re excited to have them.”
It wasn’t all MVP chants and happy fans as camp got underway, though. These Broncos have serious business to attend to.
Running Back Rotation Different Than Expected
For weeks leading up to training camp, head coach Gary Kubiak had said the Broncos would come in with a pretty standard rotation at running back. C.J. Anderson would lead the group and be backed up by Ronnie Hillman, rookie Devontae Booker, and Colorado State alum Kapri Bibbs. Or so it was thought.
Booker is recovering from an injury and while he did get some work, he will be limited for the first part of camp.
Hillman wasn’t the one taking his place, however. Instead, Bibbs lined up to take reps with the second teamers. Hillman began with the third team. Juwan Thompson got time as both the fourth running back and at fullback. Kubiak noted how impressed he is with Bibbs.
“We’ve got four backs, which is probably unusual for training camp, usually you take five at least,” Kubiak said. “It’s going to be very competitive. Book(er) got turned loose today. But, yes, Kapri is a very different player than the one I had last year.”
Von Miller Being Worked in Slowly
The Broncos seem to be treading lightly with their new $114 million pass rusher. The Super Bowl 50 MVP got limited work in team drills at the beginning of practice before heading off to the side to work with strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson.
Kubiak was thrilled to have his dynamic star back in the fold after a protracted contract negotiation.
“One thing about Von–he loves to play,” Kubiak said. “I know the concern is ‘Okay, he wasn’t here for the offseason,’ but he sure went around good. We had him out there about 40 minutes. We’ll build him up each day and get him to a full participant. But he looks good. Just very proud of him and, like I’ve said, I’m just very proud of him.”
The Broncos will keep training camp going when day two kicks off at the UC Health training center Friday at 9:30. The practice is free and open to the public.