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Bronco notes: Risner feels increased intensity for first regular-season practice

Fangio won't name captains for season. Brandon Allen ready to be one play away from becoming Broncos quarterback.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Dalton Risner points to the crowd during an NFL preseason football game between the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Dalton Risner may be more emotionally mature and physically developed than other rookies.

Still, every day as the Broncos’ starting left guard is new to him.

Risner was asked if any of his veteran teammates had told him about how the intensity picks up from the NFL preseason to the regular season.

"I tell you what, I found that out today," Risner said in an exclusive interview Monday with 9News. "Just showing up at the complex, we don’t have all those guys in the middle of the locker room, anymore, we have a 53-man roster. You can tell in the meeting room – it’s business now. Everyone’s jobs are on the line, including our coaches. And that’s what the NFL’s about.

"I felt that today every bit and just finishing up Day 1 of the regular season – you know, you start with OTAs. You go through OTAs, you get to camp -- that’s a huge jump. You get through camp and now you go through the regular season – I didn’t think it was going to be a jump but it was a whole another jump today."

Winfree appeals fine

Broncos rookie Juwann Winfree was unpleasantly stunned to receive notice the league fined him $28,075 for his terrific tackle on Rams punt returner Austin Proehl in a preseason August 24 at Los Angeles.

"I was so lost, man,'' Winfree said about the fine. "I thought it was for another play. I'm trying to figure out what play it was. It was a play where I'm doing what the coach tells me to do. I'm going low. I'm aiming for the legs and try to wrap up.''

Proehl was dropped for no gain and Winfree, who probably had the Broncos' roster made as their No. 5 receiver anyway, cemented his spot. And then the fine.

"I guess it looked like to them I lowered my head,'' Winfree said. "I don't know. They said, 'lowering the helmet.' I'm on the phone with them tomorrow so I get to try to work something out.''

The league often reduces fines upon appeal and it would be a surprise if Winfree didn't receive such consideration.

No captains

Long as I can remember, the Broncos have always had captains. Usually, two on offense, two on defense and one on special teams. And a rotating sixth captain on game day.

"We just have game captains," said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. "No season captains."

Fangio believes a guy doesn’t need a “C” on his shoulder to lead others. It reminds me of what former longtime baseball manager Jim Leyland once said.

Leyland said you have to be careful about naming a captain. What happens if the captain is in an Oh-for-slump and he starts slamming helmets and breaking bats? You don’t exactly want your other 24 guys following your captain during that kind of spell.

New QB arrives

If Joe Flacco catches his cleats in the infield dirt of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and needs a couple plays off next Monday, Brandon Allen will trot in to quarterback the Broncos.

The same Brandon Allen who practiced with the Broncos for the first time Monday.

He thinks he can handle it because the Broncos’ offense has similarities to the offense he just came from with the Los Angeles Rams.

"A lot of the concepts are very similar," Allen said. "Terminology-wise, I just have to learn that which will be fine. As far as reads and things, I think I’ll be able to pick that up pretty quickly because of the similarities."

Flacco, by the way, is unlikely to step in an infield hole. Allen is a good luck charm. He has been in the league three years and has yet to appear in a game in large part because his team’s starting quarterback – Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles in 2016 and the Rams’ Jared Goff in 2017-18 – did not miss a game because of injury.

Return of returner

As an undrafted rookie out of McNeese State, Diontae Spencer signed with the St. Louis Rams in May of 2014 but was cut two months later.

He then spent four seasons in the Canadian Football League before finally making it back to the NFL five years later with the Broncos.

"I never thought it would take (five) years, but each year I always thought I had the opportunity," Spencer said to reporters in front of his new locker Monday. "And that window was always opened for me. I feel like right now, it’s just the perfect time. It’s just a blessing how everything just worked out and I’m just happy to be here."

During the media viewing period of practice Monday, Spencer caught every punt cleanly in the same place – between the low sternum and upper stomach. What they call the bread basket.

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