ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There were 81 Broncos on the practice field for the start of OTAs Monday, including player union leaders Brandon McManus and Justin Simmons.
Among the nine who didn’t participate, seven were because of injury or COVID-19 (Dalton Risner), leaving starting running back Melvin Gordon III and new cornerback Kyle Fuller as the only two players who exercised their voluntary right to not attend the organized team activity workout.
Gordon said he has his own workout regimen he likes to stick to, but will attend the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. (Players are fined if they don’t attend). As for Fuller’s absence, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said, "I really don't know why. It is voluntary, and he's chosen not to attend at this point."
McManus, the Broncos’ kicker, and Simmons, the NFL’s highest-paid safety at $15.25 million a year, served to carry out the union’s desire to skip the offseason workout program. They led a partial Broncos players’ boycott through the Phase I conditioning and Phase II position drill periods, but were back for the start of team practices.
When McManus dropped a punt from newly signed rookie Max Duffy on a side field, he caught some guff from a few members of the media who were watching from above.
"Must have been because I missed Phase I and II," McManus joked.
>>Video above: More than 70 Broncos players show up for start of Phase II offseason program
Besides McManus and Simmons, players who showed up for the first time this season included safety Kareem Jackson, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, right tackles Bobby Massie and Cameron Fleming and left tackle Garett Bolles.
"I have bad OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)," Bolles said of his California fitness regimen. "So once I find something that I love and do, I continue to do it."
The seven players who didn’t participate in the OTA practice because they were either rehabbing injuries or sick: Bradley Chubb (ankle), Mike Purcell (foot), Duke Dawson Jr. (ACL), Shelby Harris (minor skin procedure), Baron Browning Jr. (knee), Dalton Risner (COVID-19) and Patrick Morris (illness).
9NEWS reported Saturday that Chubb underwent ankle surgery last week, the results of which were better than expected. It’s the same ankle injury that caused him to miss the final two games of last season.
"It was something that we thought would heal in time," Fangio said. "Through his workouts, he would have days where he would feel it, and some days where he wouldn't.
"They went in there and checked it out and had a very good procedure. I think he had some bone spurs that were aggravating the injury and aggravating him some days. We were able to get that taken care of and it was good news. They thought the operation would have kept him out until the middle of August, but it was so much of a success and they didn't find that much damage in there. I think he'll be ready by the start of camp now."
Top receiver Courtland Sutton participated in the OTA practice early Monday before backing off. He’s returning from a torn ACL suffered in week 2 at Pittsburgh last season.
"He's not doing everything," Fangio said. "I don’t think he ran routes today in the 'skelly' periods. We're kind of easing him in. Some days he will and some days he won't. His rehab has been fantastic thus far. He's had a great attitude. I'll be surprised if he's not ready to go sooner than what the timetable might be. He's had a great offseason and he's had a great effect in the training room with the other guys that are rehabbing. He's been infectious in that way. Courtland is a stud, and it won't be long before he's out there." …
The Broncos signed punter Max Duffy, who worked out for the team last week. He’s a former Aussie football pro who is now a 28-year-old rookie from Kentucky. …
Rod Smith, the Broncos’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, spoke to the team Monday morning. He was also known for going years without missing an offseason workout.
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