Winners and Losers from the first two days of Denver Broncos Training Camp

Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center.
Jul 28, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos now have two days’ worth of training camp wrapped up, putting them one-half of the way through their first week, and making now the perfect time to take a look back at the players who have wowed, and those that have disappointed so far.

So, with that in mind, let’s get right into the action we’ve seen over the past two days.

Winners

Jonas Griffith

There is no need to bring up the name ‘Alex Singleton’ between now and September 12th, because this position battle — if it even was one — has been decided.

Obviously, there’s a lot of time left between now and then, but Jonas Griffith is so clearly the second-best linebacker on the field, that it just doesn’t even feel worth discussing, and it’s hard to imagine anything changing dramatic enough to insert Singleton into the starting lineup.

Griffith’s ability to play the run will come as no surprise, given his large, imposing frame, but what might surprise some Denver Broncos fans is how well he’s done in coverage. On the first day of practice, Griffith made two diving pass breakups, one of which came at the goal line, in coverage against Courtland Sutton, with Russell Wilson throwing the ball. That’s pretty remarkable from a linebacker like Griffith.

Montrell Washington

Everyone should wait until we get to full contact, as this limited-contact period tends to favor jitterbugs with size concerns because those concerns aren’t being tested yet.

Even with that in mind though, Washington has been a phenom.

On Wednesday, Washington hauled in both of the most impressive scores of the practice and showed a good connection with Wilson during position drills. Washington’s first score came on a high pass from Brett Rypien, which he corralled in the back of the end zone, while managing to keep his feet in bounds. On the second, Washington was targeted late on a quick out, made the catch near the sidelines, and then, before his momentum could carry himself out of bounds, he chopped his feet, gathered himself, and launched himself towards the endzone pylon, just barely staying alive long enough to get the score.

On Thursday, which focused on special teams, Washington again had some jaw-dropping plays. On his returns, he just moves and looks different from everyone else he’s competing with, in the best way possible. At one point, he caught a punt, ran almost straight to the sideline, then bent the return upfield, and beat every single Bronco down the sidelines. It looked like he was one more heel turn away from running a circle around the entire special teams unit before they could even move a muscle.

If this can translate to live reps, look out.

P.J. Locke

The Denver Broncos’ safety room is ridiculously crowded, meaning it will take some gaudy performances to stick around, and so far, Locke has done exactly that.

Locke turned in a solid practice on Tuesday, in which he demonstrated his value to the special teams with his impressive kick-coverage ability. Locke was the star of the day on Wednesday though.

He performed like a man possessed, and routinely made difficult plays at every level of the field. There was his diving pass breakup in the back of the endzone on Montrell Washington, which saved a score, and caught the most attention, but he also proved to be a consistent force firing downfield and helping in the run, and a valuable third safety for the team in dime packages.

Eric Saubert

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Albert Okwuegbunam being the team’s No. 1 tight end, but Eric Saubert is surprisingly giving him a run for his money through two days of camp.

Saubert has arguably been Wilson’s go-to target, hauling in two touchdowns, and making a number of catches in the intermediate middle of the field from Wilson.

Seeing Saubert perform this well is not only a positive for him, but for Wilson, as well, because it showcases a willingness — at least in practice — to attack the area between the hashes.

Losers

Josh Johnson

When the Denver Broncos signed Johnson, it was with the role of backup clearly in mind. With that said, Johnson has struggled to prove he deserves that job over Brett Rypien, who has been pretty solid the first two days of camp.

Now, although Rypien’s been solid, he’s still Brett Rypien, so most of the controversy is the result of Johnson having some rough passes. On the first day, Johnson failed to lead a wide-open Washington in the end zone, leading to a pass breakup and a turnover on downs, rather than a touchdown.

That’s been a consistent theme through two days, as Johnson’s placement looks noticeably off.

Jerry Jeudy

It would be impossible to write this column without mentioning Jeudy, as he’s been a major local talking point over the last two days. That said, his struggles have been greatly overstated.

He has dropped three passes over the two practices, and one of those drops ended up ricocheting into the lap of Justin Simmons, but that’s it. All of the chattering and guffawing you’ve heard about Jeudy’s ‘nightmare camp’? Boils down to three reps. That is all that is being analyzed here by those clutching their pearls.

Now, that said, one can highlight the concerns with Jeudy’s camp performance. He’s arguably been the least productive of the first-team receivers, but his production hasn’t been dramatically different from that of Patrick.

Just as meaningful as Jeudy’s hiccups have been the compliments he’s earned from teammates. Wilson praised Jeudy yesterday for going out of his way to join the quarterbacks for a study session, and today, in an exclusive interview for Mile High Sports, Justin Simmons highlighted Jeudy who has been the player that has given the defensive backs the most trouble during camp, as he’s able to attack the D in so many ways.

So, yes, the on-field product has been mildly disappointing. That said, no need to pearl-clutch and sell your stock. Jeudy’s camp performance has comfortably been the least troubling of the three players listed here.

Dalton Risner

The Denver Broncos’ change to a zone-blocking system hasn’t helped Risner return to form, as so many hoped, and now he’s staring down the barrel of a very real camp battle with Netane Muti, who has been very impressive so far. It was thought that Muti would struggle to transition to this system, thanks to his poor length and what was perceived as him having heavy feet.

In hindsight, one must wonder if his college tape looked more sluggish due to all the injuries he endured during his time there, as his feet have been anything but heavy. Muti’s movement skills have been noticeable, as has his energy in practice, which runs in stark contrast to Risner’s. The fact Muti has also gotten a number of first-team snaps further implies potential doom for Risner.

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