Union reps for the league owners and players will vote Wednesday on a new collective bargaining agreement proposal, which could result in the lockout being lifted as soon as Thursday. If everything goes smoothly, the Denver Broncos may start training camp next week in Dove Valley.
The team is scheduled to begin practicing next Thursday which would give them two weeks to prepare for their 2011 preseason opener in Dallas against the Cowboys and would give the players fewer than two weeks to prepare for camp. Many Denver players however, have been preparing for months.
Offensive lineman Zane Beadles is a perfect example. “Even though this is clearly not a regular offseason I’m trying to approach it as it is a regular offseason,” said Beadles in March. “This thing could end at anytime and when it does I want to be ready so I am training just like I would always prepare.”
Veteran safety Brian Dawkins, who is currently in Washington D.C. as Denver’s player representative in the labor talks, first organized unofficial team workouts in May, which were attended by approximately two dozen different players on separate occasions. As many as 18 players attended each workout, including one on Tuesday.
Known as workout warriors, quarterback Brady Quinn and linebacker Joe Mays have been attending many of the team’s workouts along with most of the team’s offensive linemen, including Beadles. All three quarterbacks have made separate sessions, never on the same date however. Among the notable players that have been absent from the team workouts are running back Knowshon Moreno and many of the rookies, presumably hopefully they have all been working out on their own. Moreno did show up to the team’s training facility when the lockout was briefly lifted earlier in the year, he was however turned away like other players across the league.
Running back Lance Ball has been putting in a lot of work with teammates, as has fellow back LenDale White. Second year quarterback Tim Tebow has gotten the chance to throw to many of the receivers, he even flew several into Florida on one occasion just to get some extra reps with his targets. Incumbent starter Kyle Orton has also worked with several of the receivers, most frequently with second year player Eric Decker. Orton has worked out with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald in Minnesota.
Young receivers Britt Davis and Matt Willis have attended many of the team’s unofficial practices, while Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) and Eddie Royal (hip) have been absent due to lingering injuries, from which they are recovering with no known setbacks.
Overall, a good portion of the team appears to be in football shape (or at least ready for camp) and most of the players have been working out with at least one teammate. Many of the players (including all three quarterbacks) did receive the team’s playbooks, when the lockout was placed on hold, and have had a chance to study them.
Two things we may see more of this year than in years past during Training Camp and the preseason are injuries and sloppy play, due to the lack of mandatory workouts and practices because of the lockout. Denver however may fare better than other teams in those two areas because of the dedication shown by many of the returning starters during the extended offseason.
Stay tuned, because things are about to get crazy. When (if) the lockout is lifted this week, the Broncos will be signing their drafted rookies, signing undrafted free agents and FA’s, re-signing players and perhaps trading others leading up to their first schedule practice session on July 28th.
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