ENGLEWOOD | A day after teeing it up with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning stopped by the Denver Broncos’ on-field workout to check things out.
By the end, the five-time NFL MVP quarterback probably had the new playbook deciphered.
The schemes have been simplified by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and his staff. He wants QB Case Keenum and the rest of the players to be reacting, not thinking about terminology.
“We don’t want long-worded plays in the huddle,” Musgrave said Thursday as the coordinators met with the media. “We’d love for guys to know it like the back of their hand and then they can cut it loose and play.”
So far, Musgrave likes what he sees out of Keenum, who’s taking all the reps with the No. 1 unit, unlike a year ago when Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian split time.
“Case is getting more concentrated work and it’s paying dividends,” Musgrave said.
Musgrave also spoke highly of Lynch as he competes with Chad Kelly for the backup job.
“Paxton’s learning more about football, learning more about defense, learning more about the way he can be effective at this level of football, which is completely different than college and a world apart from high school,” Musgrave said. “Shoot, he had another good day today.”
Maybe it had something to do with No. 18 returning to the field. It’s been a busy few days for Manning, who played golf with Woods the day before in a pro-am leading up to the Memorial in Ohio.
Manning wasn’t the only familiar face hanging around at the workout. Retired pass rusher DeMarcus Ware also was on hand and looking like he could still play.
It was a reunion of leaders who helped the Broncos to a win in Super Bowl 50 over Carolina.
“It was fun to have Peyton out there, and fun to have DeMarcus. Just made for a special day,” Musgrave said. “The energy was great to begin with and when those two guys are on the field, everybody steps it up a notch.”
One thing’s for sure, this isn’t Manning’s offense. It’s abridged — for now.
“While a lot of football is X’s and O’s, and what are we doing, when are we doing it and why are we doing it, the crux of it is how do we do it?” Musgrave said. “We’re training our players on how to execute these plays this spring, the technique and that’s where our focus is right now. We’ve got a system now and we’ll train them on how to be sound Denver Broncos and really execute those plays out on the field.”
New special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is taking a more mathematical approach with his schemes. Especially with the new kickoff rules aimed at making the high-speed play a bit safer and perhaps more exciting.
He talked in terms of geometry, hypotenuse and how the Broncos plan to heavily use a 12th defender — the sideline.
Right off the bat, McMahon is trying to establish a new culture especially after all the mistakes on special teams a season ago. The principles, he said, are not easy to pick up.
“The wording is Spanish to these guys,” McMahon said. “It’s new every single time you change coordinators.”
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods learned one valuable lesson coming off his first season running the show: It’s a different kind of pressure.
“For me, I had to learn to game-plan different,” Woods said. “I feel better about it. I feel more at ease. I just feel more comfortable.”
He’s impressed with No. 5 pick Bradley Chubb, a player Woods is still a little surprised fell to the Broncos. He has some special packages in mind for his rushers that include Von Miller, Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett and Chubb.
“Dreams do come true,” Woods said of the pass rush possibilities.
Woods tried to recruit one more — Ware.
“I saw him around the corner and asked if he could play,” Woods cracked.