Of­fense bounces back af­ter try­ing day against team’s own defense

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nicki Jhab­vala

About 15 min­utes re­mained in prac­tice Mon­day when Bron­cos coach Vance Joseph or­dered a team hud­dle. Play­ers from both sides of the field, still hot from a skir­mish that broke out a few plays ear­lier, gath­ered around as Joseph is­sued an ultimatum:

Stop the non­sense, he told them. Fin­ish prac­tice right.

So the play­ers dis­persed to close out a day the of­fense needed to win.

A day ear­lier in the team’s first fully padded work­out, the of­fense was de­feated hand­ily by the defense, which in­ter­cepted both quar­ter­backs, Trevor Siemian and Pax­ton Lynch.

“Did I like what I saw? Not re­ally,” Joseph said af­ter Sun­day’s prac­tice. “Both guys had is­sues.”

Their grades im­proved Mon­day, though. Both got off to a strong start. First Lynch hit tight end Vir­gil Green for a deep touch­down in the cor­ner of the end zone, and Siemian fol­lowed later with a long pass up the mid­dle to re­ceiver Mar­lon Brown, who dived for the touch­down catch.

The of­fense bounced back, but the day wasn’t spared of mis­takes as Lynch threw back-to-back in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing team drills.

“They came out, they were sharp early on,” Joseph said of the quar­ter­backs. “It wasn’t per­fect. But it was bet­ter than yes­ter­day.”

As Joseph has said since Fe­bru­ary, the driv­ing fac­tor in elect­ing a start­ing quar­ter­back is de­ci­sion-mak­ing at the line of scrim­mage — mak­ing the right reads, mak­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate throws, de­cid­ing when to pull the ball down and run, know­ing when to throw it away.

“That’s why I was so dis­ap­pointed with yes­ter­day’s re­sults,” Joseph said. “Mak­ing crit­i­cal (er­rors) in the scor­ing zone, we can’t have. Now, if you make an er­ror on first-and-10, sec­ond-and10, you can over­come those.”

The phys­i­cal­ity from the of­fen­sive line that trick­led down to the run game and passing game was ap­plauded by Joseph.

“Yes­ter­day was un­ac­cept­able,” rookie of­fen­sive tackle Garett Bolles said. “We weren’t on our game. We had things we had to work out. We had some in­juries that hap­pened, so the next man has to step up. We’re just try­ing to get used to each other.”

Mon­day’s prac­tice placed a heavy em­pha­sis on run­ning the ball more, with C.J. An­der­son, rookie De’An­gelo Hen­der­son and free-agent ac­qui­si­tion Ste­van Ri­d­ley tak­ing the bulk of reps.

On one play, Ri­d­ley went out wide for a catch and was popped by line­backer Zaire An­der­son. Tackle Ty Sam­brailo, un­happy with the hit, rushed to Ri­d­ley’s defense and the first brawl of 2017 en­sued.

Al­though Joseph said he was happy to see the en­thu­si­asm, the tem­pers have to be con­trolled. The bounce­back is what counted most, though.

“I told the guys things are go­ing to hap­pen, but it’s how you re­spond,” Joseph said. “Foot­ball is a game of ad­ver­sity and a game of mis­takes. That’s go­ing to hap­pen. You’re go­ing to have bad days, but how you bounce back is crit­i­cal.”

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