ENGLEWOOD — The Denver Broncos were back on the practice field on Thursday as they get closer and closer to Sunday’s South Beach showdown with the Miami Dolphins. What’s all the fuss about wristbands?

Denver Broncos offense looking to play faster

There’s been a lot of fuss this week from Russell Wilson doomsdayers about the Denver Broncos offense and Sean Payton’s comments about reducing verbiage.

For some reason, this has been translated into the narrative that Wilson can’t call the plays, which is false. Earlier in the week, Payton harped on burning timeouts due to personnel issues and not getting the play into the huddle fast enough.

Ideally, Payton wants the offense to snap the ball with 14-16 seconds on the play clock versus being under 10 seconds.

“I think, No. 1, the first thing that we always try to look at—but we have to do a better job of as coaches—is reduce the verbiage,” Payton said. “If we have a longer play, then we can easily get to a wristband. We have to reduce the variables. I just finished saying this in the team meeting: if we’re making [mental errors] defensively, and offensively, we’re having trouble breaking the huddle and getting lined up, then we have to look at if have too much in. Then, how do we reduce the verbiage at the line of scrimmage, or in the huddle, quite frankly?”

The Broncos burnt two timeouts relatively quickly in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Washington Commanders. On one play specifically, Denver had trouble getting the right personnel on the field. Javonte Williams was told to come off the field, but he knew that there were only 10 players in the huddle because nobody came in for him.

When the coaches realized there wasn’t an 11th player in, Payton had to burn a timeout.

“It was more than just one drive,” Payton said. “There were a number of drives where we were late with personnel, getting out of the huddle we took a while. That has to change. We had to burn timeouts in the first half, and I’m not used to doing [that]. We have to be better. I have to be better. ‘Russ’ (QB Russell Wilson) has to be sharper with getting the play out, and then we have to look at how much we have in. If we need to wristband it, we will.”

When personnel is late coming in, it’s hard to expect any quarterback to get the play call in, in a timely manner.

“Preseason was smooth, and then Week 1 was smooth,” Payton said of the offense. “We probably had too much with some of these plays. Looking back on it, that’s something we can correct on our end and be quicker. There’s that happy balance of getting it in fast, but also getting it called to the line. I’m sure we were a little bit heavy relative to the length of some of the plays.”

Now, the doomsdayers and hot-take media outlets have suggested that Russell Wilson can’t call plays without guidance from a wristband. Payton added more context about why using a wristband is useful for the offense in terms of them playing faster.

“We always have a wrist band,” Payton said. “There are certain plays that are going to be longer. I’ll say, ‘Russ (QB Russell Wilson), let’s run No. 2,’ or, ‘Let’s flip No. 2,’ on the left hash or right hash. In hindsight last week, there are probably four or five plays that would have been easier had they been wrist banded, but we can still reduce the verbiage.”

Russell Wilson acknowledged that the offense wants to play faster and that the verbiage really isn’t an issue for their unit.

“The verbiage is good, ” Wilson said. “We just have to be a little quicker, that’s it. The faster we can go, the better. Getting in and out, on and off the field, getting up to the line, all of those different things. Calling it a little quicker in the huddle when we can. All those different things all added together, we obviously like our tempo and getting up to the ball and playing fast and that’s a good thing for us.”

Broncos Injury Report from Thursday

Prior to the release of the team’s official injury report on Thursday the same players from Wednesday were spotted on the side field.

Justin Simmons (hip), Frank Clark (hip), and Mike Purcell (ankle) were spotted on the side field at the start of practice and were late announced as DNPs.

Joining them were players on IR or the PUP list: Greg Dulcich (hamstring), Baron Browning (knee), K’Waun Williams (ankle), P.J. Locke (ankle), and Alex Palczewski (hand).

After being listed with an ankle designation on Wednesday and limited, Garett Bolles was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday.

For Simmons, he’s been designated as DNP for two consecutive days, but if he improves to limited on Friday, he could find himself playing. If he’s unable to participate on Friday, his chances of being ready to go on Sunday become a little less likely.

Vance Joseph believes Broncos defensive issues fixable

The Broncos defense is gearing up to face one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses this season. After a disappointing Week 2 performance against the Washington Commanders, Denver will have their work cut out for them.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph acknowledged areas the defense can improve and that he’s not worried about what type of unit they can be.

“Overall, it’s not all bad football,” Joseph said on Thursday. “It’s our second week. There are going to be some ups and downs from a schematic perspective, but I thought there was some good stuff in both games. Obviously, not winning the game puts a light on all of it. Penalties are huge right now. That’s hurting us on defense and keeping drives alive. We are playing a lot of snaps because of penalties. We have to coach our way out of penalties. I’ll do a better job of coaching the penalties out and getting those things right. Even in the first game against the Raiders, every drive they scored [on], there was a penalty involved. Last week from the second quarter on, every score they had, they had a third-down conversion on a penalty or a screen. Those things are correctable. I’m not worried about that. There is enough good football on tape that I can see it. It’s Week 2. There’s a long way to go, so I’m not discouraged at all.”

To Joseph’s point, the Broncos defense has been penalized 12 times through two games, which has been back-breaking for them.

The toughest challenge this week on paper is how Denver will balance their blend of off-coverage against a quick-hitting offense. Pressure is a huge dynamic that helps aid the secondary with their coverage assignments. Still, with Tua Tagovailoa getting the ball out of his hands at one of the fastest rates in the league, it will be interesting to see what adjustments Joseph will have up his sleeve.

Obviously, if Justin Simmons cannot go, stopping Miami will be even more of an uphill battle.

The Denver Broncos wrap up their final practice of the week on Friday at the Centura Health Training Center.