DENVER — There appears to be a little less Russell Wilson for pass rushers to chase down this year.
After absorbing 55 sacks in 15 games to tie the Bears' Justin Fields for most in the NFL last season, a slimmer quarterback figures to be a good thing.
"I feel great,'' Wilson said Thursday following the Denver Broncos' third of 10 OTA practices. "I feel lean and mean, ready to go. And focused.''
Noticeably thinner in the face, Wilson was asked how many pounds he dropped since the 2022 season ended 4 1/2 months ago.
"I'm not worried about that, I'm not counting,'' he said with a smile. "All I know is I'm excited to play again."
Asked about his offseason conditioning, Wilson said: "You always reflect on, every year, ever since I came into the National Football League, things you can always do better. You always want to be in the best shape of your life. I'm ready for that. I think I'm better than ever.
"I think also, mentally, there's always a journey. Highs and lows. There's been a lot of highs and been some tough lows but adversity, you've got to be able to handle it all and I'll be able to handle it."
Wilson was a 9-time Pro Bowler through his first 10 years in Seattle but his first season with the Broncos last year was his worst, as the team went 5-12 and he finished 27th among league passers. He appears ready physically and mentally for a comeback.
"No. 1, I had the best offseason of my life,'' he said. "These guys, the team bonding, everybody that's putting in the work, it's been amazing. The work ethic, the locker room, everybody's real tight and I think ultimately we want to be the best version of ourselves.
"With me, too. I want to be the best version of me and I'm looking forward to the work of it all.''
Sean Payton was asked about how Wilson looks -- as a performing quarterback, not his newly conditioning bod.
“He's picking it up good,'' Payton said. "He looks good and looks sharp.”
"We're installing a whole new offense. You see glimpses and you see a lot of what we've got to correct. The process is going well."
Running back Javonte Williams is not only apparently going to be ready by the start of the regular season following last year's ACL surgery in October, he's not only expected to be ready by the start of training camp, he's been out there for the first week of OTAs.
Williams participated in almost all drills Thursday before he was sent off to a side field for conditioning before the 11 on 11 team sessions.
"He's working in a limited capacity,'' head coach Sean Payton said. "We're being smart. And I've told you this before, we've been encouraged heading into this season and it's good to see him out there.''
Payton was asked about the decision to release longtime kicker Brandon McManus Tuesday.
"You're constantly looking at the best interest of your team,'' Payton said. "And a lot of times money and what your musts are come into it. You guys know the transactions continue from now until training camp. There may be a player or two we're still looking to sign. So we factored a lot of that in and made that decision."
Outside linebacker Baron Browning was excused from OTA practice Thursday to attend to a family matter. ...
Defensive tackles Mike Purcell and D.J. Jones are coming off minor offseason surgeries, per sources, and are being held out of OTAs. Purcell was on the injury report late last season with elbow and ankle injuries; Jones battled shoulder and knee issues.
Jones started 15 games last season and Purcell played in all 17 games, starting four. ...
Jerry Jeudy ran a middle-type pattern in practice Thursday that resulted in a collision with cornerback Ja'Quan McMillian. Payton said Jeudy suffered a thigh bruise but is otherwise fine. ...
Punter Riley Dixon and safety Kareem Jackson were not seen at practice Thursday. Jackson is excused until next week. ...
Rehabbing on the side and not participating in OTA drills: Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, Pat Surtain II, JL Skinner, Christopher Allen and Ray Wilborn. Aaron Patrick is also not participating because of his ACL injury last season. ...
Safety Caden Sterns has returned from last season's hip surgery that knocked him out of the final 12 games. Sterns appeared to be a full participant Thursday. ...
Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been watching OTAs from the practice fields this week.
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