Is NFL training camp too long?
That’s what I’m wondering after the Broncos suffered another damaging injury to a key player on the practice fields at Dove Valley. I was a three-quarter sand wedge away from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie when the prized free agent-signing hit the turf, grabbed his left leg and was carted off the field and into the training room with an ankle injury.
The Broncos can replace a center such as Dan Koppen, who sustained a season-ending knee injury and may or may not have been the starter, depending on who you ask.
Cornerbacks like him aren’t sitting at home waiting for a phone call. Though he arrived with less fanfare, DRC is every bit as important as Wes Welker (above), the big-splash free agent.
In the pass-happy NFL — and with the stable of receivers already in place here in Denver — I would suggest a gifted cornerback is more important.
DRC is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with the ankle sprain. It happened when, during one-on-one passing drills, he got tangled up with wide receiver Quincy McDuffie. It happened directly in front of the south goal post on the west field. It happened close enough to the crowd of fans that all of them knew right away he was injured.
“He has done it before, so I’m not overly concerned,” John Fox said after practice.
Today was only the sixth day of training camp. The Broncos had Tuesday off.
But it makes you wonder: Do teams really need this much time to beat up on each other — plus four preseason games in which injuries are an even greater concern?
Play of the day: Two, both involving Peyton Manning. The QB hit Eric Decker for a long touchdown, then Demaryius Thomas for a long touchdown. It should be noted that cornerbacks have virtually no chance in one-on-drills. But like Mike Tyson, it’s clear the old man’s still got it. The Broncos’ 2-minute offense was particularly sharp today, as well.
Newsworthy: Montee Ball felt he had his best day of training camp today. We won’t get into detail, since Ball and the Broncos decision to select him ahead of Eddie Lacy in the NFL draft is the column topic for Thursday’s Gazette, but it was the first time Ball has stood out.
“Now it kind of seems like I’m not thinking as much coming out of the backfield,” Ball said after practice. “I’m just reacting now.”
The untrained eye saw: Another memorable, physical, utterly watchable battle between cornerback Chris Harris and slot-machine Wes Welker. These two get after it. And they are usually matched against each other.
Watching closely, Harris is giving Welker all the veteran can handle. After one how-did-he-catch-that? reception, Welker spiked the ball into the ground, as if he to show he finally had gotten the best of Harris.
As I wrote here, I’ve always been fascinated by Welker and his extraordinary career path.
But this daily matchup has shown Harris is notably underrated among his peers at position. As long as DRC recovers to 100 percent, the Broncos cornerbacks appear to be as sharp as any in the league.
“We’re just waiting for really the safety spots to get settled in, so we can get that chemistry,” Harris said.
Notable: The CSU football staff, with head coach Jim McElwain, attended today’s workout. McElwain spent about 20 minutes talking to John Fox on the sideline.
Here’s what McElwain told me a few weeks ago about working with the Broncos when his staff has the opportunity.
“That time is invaluable. It really is,” McElwain said. “That’s a professional operation with professional coaches. John Fox and those coaches, they’re at the top of the game. Anything we can take from (the Broncos), that’s only going to help us.”
Next: The Broncos return to practice from 8:50-11:30 a.m. Thursday. It is free and open to the public. If you see me, say hello. Good to chat with a handful of Gazette readers at Dove Valley today. Your knowledge is in midseason form.