Jan 13, 2024

‘The key is making the corrections’: Broncos focused on improvement following first joint practice with Rams

Lead writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos' ongoing joint practices against the Rams may be less about how Denver starts and more about how the team finishes.

As Head Coach Sean Payton reflected on Wednesday's practice, he acknowledged that both teams handled the high number of snaps "really well" in a practice that included one-on-ones, seven-on-seven action, 11-on-11 snaps, special teams work and situational snaps in the two-minute drill and the red zone.

Before heading in to watch film of both fields — Payton was with the offense during Wednesday's session — he said his focus would be about how the Broncos moved forward into Thursday's practice.

"It's not what I'm hoping to see on film today, it's what I'm hoping to see tomorrow [and] the corrections," Payton said. "I thought on the offensive field where I was, we had too many false starts. I thought we tired pretty quickly. They were going a lot of plays relative to maybe what they're used to and even more than a real game would present. I think it's good from a conditioning standpoint. Mentally, there's some mental toughness that's required to play. Poise. All those things required not to play, but to play well and to win. Those challenges kind of came up a little bit. We'll watch those on tape and then the key is making the corrections and then hopefully not having to see the same mistake from the same player again."

The benefits of joint practices, even as the Broncos look to clean up certain elements ahead of Thursday, remain quite evident.

"You get different looks, so you get used to your own team, your own defense, your own offense and you get a whole new set of formations, defensive fronts," Payton said. "Obviously, you get a whole new set of players that do things differently. In a game, you're going to get things that maybe you haven't covered. Today I'm sure we're going to look at plays, both sides of the ball, that we haven't seen because either our offense doesn't run them or our defense doesn't play it. I think that variety is important. These are huge reps for so many players that are competing for roster spots. These practice snaps are invaluable. This would be like a preseason game, really, when you look at the snaps."

Defensively, Pat Surtain II is one player whose focus is on preparing for the regular season, rather than fighting for a roster spot. He said the Rams challenged the Broncos' defense in a number of ways, and he's also looking forward to seeing how the team will respond on Day 2.

"A lot of shifts, a lot of motions," Surtain said. "A lot of pre-snap motions. Us as a defense, we've really got to focus on and hone in on communicating, our eyes, leverage — little things like that — against an offense like that that does a lot of those things. That's the main thing we've got to work on: just pre-snap communication and eyes and leverage.

"… It was good that we were able to get good work out here and sort of focus on the little things that their offense likes to do. Sort of get a run on it so tomorrow and by Saturday, we'll know what's going on."

And while Surtain said he's "been ready" for Week 1, he recognized the Broncos' defense can gain important experience against Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and the Rams' offense.

"I think it's just good work, good competition, just seeing different things schematically against different teams," Surtain said. "… It will make us better."