The Denver Broncos were back on the field on Tuesday fresh off the city celebrating the Denver Nuggets NBA championship victory. Monday’s championship win was something Sean Payton hopes his team can draw inspiration from.

Denver Broncos kick off Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp

After successfully going through organized team activities, the Denver Broncos transitioned to their final phase of the offseason program before having to report back in late July for the start of training camp.

Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp kicked off on Tuesday inside of the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse and one thing has been clear during the entirety of the team’s offseason program; Sean Payton and his coaching staff structure practice to be as crisp and productive as possible. This expectation was evident in some of the Broncos team periods with the offense led by Russell Wilson.

Wilson was decisive and quick with where he was going with the football on Tuesday and because of that, the Broncos offense moved the ball downfield several times. Under Nathaniel Hackett’s supervision last season, it never quite appeared that the offense ever had any flow to build off of, even in practice.

Payton is methodical in every way about how he wants practice to go and that standard has been set early — high volumes of reps for every position group and player are a top priority.

Players who stood out during Tuesday’s practice
Two players on the offensive side of the ball who stood out besides Russell Wilson were wide receiver Tim Patrick and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Patrick has slowly ramped things up in collaboration with the Broncos coaching staff and was doing noticeably more on the first day of minicamp as opposed to the limitations he had during organized team activities.

The Broncos veteran wide receiver demonstrated the ability to catch passes in traffic on Tuesday, but more importantly, trusting his movement after coming off the ACL injury that sidelined him for the entirety of last season. Patrick met with the media after practice and discussed how he kept himself positive while he recovered from surgery.

“My family,” Patrick answered. “Watching a lot of film on myself. It’s just a daily reminder that it’s a long road and that it’s not going to happen overnight.” For Patrick, he previously overcame a serious leg injury when he was at Utah, breaking his leg back in 2014.

Because of that experience, he said he already adapted the mindset that he would be able to get through the ACL.

Behind the scenes last year, Patrick showcased his leadership by helping some of the younger wide receivers out as the team dealt with a variety of injuries that forced several undrafted rookies to step up to the plate. Another thing Patrick has done this offseason is bring KJ Hamler into his home with his family.

Patrick wants to do everything he can to ensure that he, Hamler, Courtland Sutton, and Jerry Jeudy all get the chance to play together this upcoming season. Hamler has endured some struggles with injuries through the first few years of his NFL career and Patrick’s friendship and guidance are important.

“We’ve got a routine right now,” Patrick said of Hamler and he’s dynamic of living together. “That’s one of the things I’ve been preaching to him is to get a routine. The same thing every day, don’t get bored with it because that’s what’s going to get you far. That’s what we’re working on right now, just holding each other accountable and doing the stuff that’s going obviously make us healthy and a better version of ourselves this season.”

Having both of them on the field this year will be crucial for the Broncos as Payton looks to expand the personnel he has in hopes of giving the offensive side of the ball more production than they’ve seen in prior years.

Albert Okwuegbunam continuing to find confidence
One quote that Payton has said this offseason that needs to be emphasized is “Confidence is born from demonstrated ability.” During Tuesday’s practice, Okwuegbunam made several plays on the day that Payton noted could be things that give him the confidence to consistently do things he’s capable of.

For all of us in general, being able to repeatedly do something and do it well gives us confidence. The same can be said for playing football.

It’s safe to say that last season, the Broncos coaching staff didn’t have a great system or structure in place that would allow Okwuegbunam or various other players to find the confidence they needed to perform at a high level. While observing Payton and his coaching staff during practice, it’s evident that they are all mindful of the positions they are putting the players they coach in with every group.

With Okwuegbunam’s size and ability to run, he can continue to carve out a role for himself as an impact player for the Broncos offense even if Greg Dulcich sees a healthy dose of the targets. He’s too talented of a player to not be on the field and he’s continued to stack some good days while the Broncos have been on the field.

“He can run,” Payton told local media following practice. “He’s athletic. I think consistency. He’s made progress. He’s at that stage where this is the time. He did make a few plays. I was encouraged with that. I think that as a teacher, our job is to hit the ceiling with these guys. He’s been very attentive. We’re not in pads yet, so that tight end position is interesting. Some of them are better run blockers, some are better receivers. He’s certainly athletic. I’ve said this a million times. Confidence is born out of demonstrated ability. We can wish for confidence, and you can say, ‘I’m confident.’ We’ve all seen moments where players do something in a game and all of a sudden—so it has to be born out of demonstrated abilities. There’s a catch he makes today that gives that young man confidence that he can do it again. That’s the growth spurt. It just can’t be wished for.”

Broncos hold tryouts for eight players
The Denver Broncos held tryouts for eight players who will compete this week for a potential shot on the training camp roster in July.

Denver had two wide receivers in on Tuesday including Jahcour Pearson who recently played in the XFL with Ben DiNucci as his quarterback who is on the Broncos roster currently. The other receiver in attendance was Jerreth Sterns, brother of Broncos safety Caden Sterns — who received an opportunity to try out as well.

The Broncos also had two running backs on tryout status. Fifth-year NFL veteran Benny Snell Jr and fourth-year player Ryan Nall were at practice. Snell played the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers while Nall spent three seasons (2019-2021) with the Chicago Bears.

While Elliott Fry was signed to a one-year contract several weeks ago, Denver had veteran kicker Randy Bullock in for a tryout. Both he and Fry kicked an equal amount of reps during Tuesday’s practice where it appeared that Fry was more consistent on the day.

Aside from these players, Denver also had cornerback Darren Evans, long snapper Jack Landherr, and linebacker Austin Ajiake in on the day.

Baron Browning set to start the season on the PUP list, Frank Clark signing official
Broncos head coach Sean Payton shared some unfortunate news surrounding Baron Browning’s injury on Tuesday, detailing that the third-year pass rusher will start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.

Browning’s injury is part of the reason why the Denver Broncos made the push to sign former Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Frank Clark last week. On Tuesday, the Clark signing was made official as Denver released undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Nick Williams to make room for the signing.

“That’s a fair question, and probably to some degree, yes,” Payton said regarding Browning’s injury and the decision to sign Clark. “I’m not going to give updates on injuries, but yes. Obviously, he is someone who will start the season on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform). Outside of that, I think that had a little bit to do with it, and that’s part of the deal.”

Payton announced on Tuesday that Clark is being viewed for the team as an outside linebacker. He makes the switch from defensive end to the edge going from a 4-3 scheme last season to a 3-4 now with the Broncos. There will be instances where he may shift to defensive end depending on personnel packages Vance Joseph puts together for various situations.

The Denver Broncos will be back on the field on Wednesday for the second day of mandatory minicamp before concluding this phase of the offseason program on Thursday.