ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — First, Todd Davis, the Broncos’ most experienced starting inside linebacker and defensive co-captain, tried to hop off the practice field to the sideline where he was met by medical staffers.
It was near the end of the Broncos’ first training camp practice late Thursday morning and he was down in pain. Near the end?
"It was the very last (No. ) 1 rep I had the whole day,’’ Davis said. “The very last play."
After a few minutes of medical attention, Davis tried to get up but he could only limp with a painful grimace.
"I went to plant and run towards the ball, the ball was thrown and I just felt something kind of pull in my calf," Davis said in a phone interview with 9News. "Nothing major happened."
He then took a seat on a medical cart and rode into the locker room. Less than an hour later, Davis was spotted on crutches, then with a boot on his right foot. He took all the necessary exams.
He will miss a few weeks – the Broncos’ medical team figures to err on the side of caution – but he is not expected to miss the season opener Sept. 9 at Oakland.
"Oh, I’ll definitely be there," Davis said. "Definitely be there. No doubt."
In the old days, missing camp and returning in time for the games would be called a vet move.
"I didn’t want to miss that many vet days," Davis said with a laugh. "Hopefully, I get to come back and do a little bit with the guys."
With Josey Jewell starting at the other inside linebacker position, Davis’ replacement during the preseason figures to come from the likes of Joseph Jones, Keishawn Bierria, Joe Dineen, Josh Watson and maybe even rookie Justin Hollins, an outside linebacker who plays inside in the nickel.
"It’s been a little bit of a rotation but I know they got a complement of guys who can come in and fill in and do a good job so I’m excited to see what happens," Davis said.
Star of camp
Phillip Lindsay. Back from a right wrist injury, the second-year running back exploded off one cuts and found the second level on several runs, including the first camp play from scrimmage.
"He looked good," said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. "About what I hoped he would. He had an unusual wrist injury but he had his legs. I probably shouldn’t be surprised. He was chomping at the bit to get out there."
Remember, Courtland, there’s 7 ½ weeks to go
Broncos second-year receiver Courtland Sutton had a tough opener. He had drops in position drills early and one late on a wide-open slant pass from Joe Flacco during an 11-on-11 period.
"I kind of ride him and tease him a little bit, so I’ll take advantage of that," Fangio said with a smile.
Day 1 surprise
Troy Fumagalli. We didn’t see the fifth-round tight end all last season as a sports hernia shut him down pretty much from draft day. But Fumagalli joined Jeff Heuerman in a two tight-end set on the first team play of camp.
"I think he can be an all-around tight end," Fangio said. "I think he can play in-line. I think he can catch and run good routes—traditional tight end routes, not wide receivers type routes where tight ends are split out. I think he can be a good tight end.
"Now, he’s got to go do it. I think you’re getting a little overboard too soon on the good parts, but let’s see it happen."
David Williams returns
Late in the draft last year, the Broncos nearly lost all hope of signing Lindsay as an undrafted college free agent when the team drafted Arkansas running back David Williams in the seventh round.
But Lindsay’s mom and agent Mike McCartney talked him into staying with his hometown team and he became a rookie Pro Bowl sensation.
Williams didn’t make the season-opening roster, spent time on the Broncos’ practice squad, then was signed away by Jacksonville where he had 36 yards on eight carries in six games.
Cuts by the Jaguars in May, the Broncos signed Williams back on Thursday. 9News was the first to report of Williams’ return.
At 6-foot, 229 pounds he is right there with Royce Freeman as the Broncos’ biggest backs who would complement the smaller Lindsay.
To replace retired receiver Aaron Burbridge, a former San Francisco 49er, on their 90-man roster, the Broncos singed receiver Steven Dunbar Jr., a former 49ers receiver. It’s all about quickly adapting to the system of offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, a former 49er coach. …
Punter Colby Wadman missed the first camp practice to attend to a family matter back home in California. Backup tight end Bug Howard was sick and didn’t practice. …
With temperatures that eventually reached 96 degrees, the Broncos had their second hottest camp opening practice since making their camp site the same as their Dove Valley headquarters in 2003. The hottest camp opener was in 2003 with a high of 99 degrees.
Despite the heat and workday start, the Broncos drew a crowd of 1,257.
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