Broncos cozy yet uncomfortable at same time
The Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD — With impeccable timing, the Denver Broncos christened their sparkling new indoor practice facility Wednesday with the temperature at minus 2 degrees.
Coach John Fox said the “bitter cold and the fact we’re playing in St. Louis this week” provided the perfect chance to break in the new digs.
The Broncos were relieved they didn’t have to bundle up or even bus to their old, cramped practice bubble.
“I know I enjoyed it because it was definitely cold outside,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.
Nose tackle Terrance Knighton said he doesn’t mind practicing in blizzard conditions, but said, “it’s good to go in there and get on turf knowing that we’ll play on turf Sunday.”
It wasn’t all hugs and hot chocolate, however.
While the Broncos may have gotten out of the cold, they couldn’t escape this harsh truth: it’s November and their offensive line is still struggling.
After changing three-fifths of their line last week, the Broncos brought in Richie Incognito for a workout this week. Fox called it a “productive visit” and the team left open the possibility of signing him down the road. Their flirtation with the guard, who was suspended last year for bullying a teammate while in Miami, shows how serious the Broncos are about fixing their front line.
They’ve been unable to get the ground game going and have allowed a trio of sacks on three-man rushes, as GM John Elway emphasized in his address to the team last week.
Several players said Incognito would be accepted in Denver’s locker room.
“As long as we bring in a guy that’s willing to put his hand in the pile to help us win a world championship, that’s all that really matters,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of guys around the NFL that have baggage, but everyone deserves a second chance. If we bring him in, we’ll welcome him with open arms.”
“If he comes on our team, we’re going to embrace him and accept him and welcome him,” safety Rahim Moore agreed. “We don’t worry about distractions. All we worry about is making plays and winning games.”
Knighton said nothing would change as far as the Broncos are concerned.
“He would have to adjust to our locker room,” Knighton said. “We have a way that we do things here and that starts at the top with Mr. Elway. And we do everything so that we can win a championship. His past or anything that he’s been through doesn’t mean anything in this locker room. If he’s here to help us win, that’s all we care about.”
The Broncos have already made four changes to their O-line.
They replaced Chris Clark with Paul Cornick at right tackle last month. Last week, they inserted Will Montgomery at center and moved Manny Ramirez to right guard and Louis Vasquez to right tackle.
It’s never ideal to change centers midstream, but Peyton Manning said he’s worked off and on with Montgomery since the offseason and, “I thought Will did a good job in his first start as a Bronco.”
There was more shuffling Wednesday when left tackle Ryan Clady (groin injury) and left guard Orlando Franklin (knee) were limited at practice.
At least they were cozy.
The Broncos’ new 85,000-square-foot, 6½-story-tall indoor facility is the gemstone of their $35 million headquarters refurbishing. It includes locker rooms, meeting rooms and other amenities that will surely attract other teams for joint workouts during the summer.
“We want to entice another team to come practice with us,” said Chip Conway, the Broncos vice president of operations. “We wanted to try to, and believe we can, give a visiting team everything they need.”
In years past, the Broncos would bus to a nearby facility that wasn’t ideal for football. Safety Quinton Carter blew out a hamstring and a knee while avoiding a soccer goal after defending a deep pass there in 2012.
That’s not a problem in the new place.
“There’s lots of room on the sidelines and behind the end zones,” Carter said, smiling. “There’s nothing to run into anymore.”
“They did it right,” team president and CEO Joe Ellis said. “The only thing we can’t do out here, the only guy we really put the screws to is Britton Colquitt. He can’t punt in here, because he’s going to hit the roof, so he’ll have to go outside.”
Oh, and another caveat: No gum, no chewing tobacco and no seeds on the new turf. That last one will be an issue for Fox, who’s replaced his nicotine habit with sunflower seeds.
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