Kubiak wants Broncos to put Super Bowl 50 performance in rearview
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Shortly after the Denver Broncos began training camp Thursday with Jay Z’s “On To The Next One” blaring over the loudspeakers, their safeties and cornerbacks donned actual blinders.
“It’s about focusing on one thing at a time and focusing on what you’re supposed to be focused on,” safety T.J. Ward said. “You’re supposed to be reading the quarterback and supposed to have your eyes on the receiver. Just training your eyes.”
Defensive backs coach Joe Woods wanted his guys to see what was in front of them and not be distracted by anything in the periphery.
It was an especially timely initiative given coach Gary Kubiak’s opening-of-camp message to put Super Bowl 50 behind them and focus solely on what lies ahead.
“I told them we’re not defending anything; we’re chasing the next one,” Kubiak said.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian took the admonition to heart, declaring last year “was a heck of a ride. But that team’s dead, so to speak.”
“Dead? No, there’s still a few of them out here,” Kubiak said. “But I think that’s the big thing is that it’s over, it’s gone, it’s a new group.”
One that’s embarking on a new journey with eyes wide open and staring straight ahead like all those DBs.
It was apparently easier for players to put the Super Bowl in the rearview than it was for Broncos fans to let it go.
The crowd, which was quite a bit smaller minus Peyton Manning as the marquee attraction, serenaded star linebacker Von Miller with chants of “MVP! MVP!” when he emerged on the field for warmups.
Miller was in uniform for the first time since being named the game’s most valuable player after leading Denver past Carolina 24-10 on Feb. 8.
He eased his way into action after missing the offseason because of a contract stalemate.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware (back) and cornerback Aqib Talib (leg) were held out but did some light jogging and are expected back soon.
The biggest question facing the champs is who will succeed Manning, who retired in March, 48 hours before his backup, Brock Osweiler, signed with Houston.
Mark Sanchez started Thursday and looked sharper than Siemian, a second-year pro who has the most experience in Kubiak’s offense.
“It was a great start,” Sanchez said, “but it’s only a start.”
Rookie Paxton Lynch was inconsistent, overthrowing at times as he continues to make the leap from the spread he operated at Memphis to Kubiak’s West Coast offense.
One of the requirements for winning the QB job is taking care of the football — much like, yes, last year, when stellar defense fueled Denver’s title run.
GM John Elway and Kubiak have both said they expect to be better on offense this season regardless of who’s under center. They have a refurbished O-line to go with reinforcements in the backfield and at tight end.
“The good thing is the system hasn’t changed and we have a year under our belt with that,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “The talent hasn’t changed. We still have the same talent — minus 18 — and the same playmakers.”
One of them is wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who said his agent and the Broncos are still going “back and forth” in contract talks long after Miller and linebacker Brandon Marshall signed their deals over the summer.
“It’s not frustrating. It’s actually a blessing,” said Sanders. “We’re talking millions and millions of dollars that I can earn just by the game that I love.”
Sanders has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, 11 100-yard games, 15 touchdowns and 26 catches of 25 or more yards since joining the Broncos as a free agent in 2014.
“I said it from Day 1: I’m not trying to break the bank. I want to be here,” Sanders said. “But I also want a fair deal and I want a fair deal for the production I’ve been putting out, so we’ll see how it goes.”
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.