Training Camp can get long and tedious for players, but Saturday’s practice was a little different for the Denver Broncos.
Starting left tackle Ryan Clady, and starting corner back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie both made their returns to the field giving the Broncos the most complete roster they have had since camp started.
Long-term injuries to players like center’s Dan Koppen and J.D Walton, and guard Kris Kuper will keep the Broncos from being entirely healthy until midseason at the earliest, but for now the Broncos can be satisfied with getting their $15 million-a-year left tackle back at practice.
Clady hasn’t participated in team drills ever since signing his 50-million plus contract extension, and although he wasn’t in full gear, it was a step in the right direction.
“When you’re missing a $15 million left tackle it can look different,” said Broncos coach John Fox. “‘But he’ll be there. I think our offensive line will be fine. In fact, I think it’s a strength.”
By the start of the regular season, the Broncos’ offensive line should have, from left to right, Clady, Zane Beadles, Ryan Lilja or Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez and Orlando Franklin. Many would say that this line is an upgrade over last season.
Also returning was Cromartie, who had missed some time with an ankle injury. Rodgers-Cromartie returns to start opposite Champ Bailey in the Broncos secondary. This allows Chris Harris to return to his starting nickel-back spot and gives Denver a healthy secondary heading into their second preseason game.
“He did individual (drills) and a little bit of walk through,” coach Fox said of Rodgers-Cromartie. “We’re easing him back into it and he’s coming along just fine.”
Wide receiver Wes Welker did not participate on Saturday, taking the field without a uniform on. Fox called it a “club decision” but did not list Welker in the injury report.
This all bodes well for the Broncos who are getting healthy at the right time.