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Could a wristband be key to the Broncos' second half?

QB Russell Wilson wore a mini playsheet on his left wrist during the Broncos win in London. And he's been wearing it again this week. Take that, Pete Carroll!

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Ryan Tannehill will have Derrick Henry. Russell Wilson will have the play-sheet wristband.

Again during practice Thursday, Wilson had a miniature version of the Broncos’ playbook taped to his left wristband area. Pete Carroll, Wilson’s former head coach in Seattle, indicated Wilson resisted the play-sheet wristband in the past. That’s not the case now. Wilson had plays – not all plays, just the ones with the most words and descriptions – taped to his left wrist two weeks ago in the Broncos’ 21-17 win against Jacksonville in London.

And based on practice this week following the bye, Wilson will have the plays taped to his left wrist again Sunday at Tennessee.

“You want to limit those plays on the wrist band,’’ said offensive coordinator Justin Outten. “Typically they’re the ones that are a little bit more verbiagy and a lot more—there’s a lot of moving parts. You want to be smart with that. Having guys that are at different positions with injuries at the skill positions and just—we want to take advantage of getting in and out of a huddle, as well. It could get verbiagy in special situations, and that’s across the board around the league. You can get a little bit more creative in those aspects. Just getting certain plays on that thing so he can get it out a little bit quicker and so everyone hears a little bit better instead of just being in a no huddle situation where somebody can’t hear you. It’s really just locking into certain plays on that call sheet that we can just take advantage of on that.”

Credit: AP
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) hands off to running back Derrick Henry (22) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Tannehill is the Tennessee quarterback who missed the last two games because of a high ankle sprain. He was a full participant in practice Thursday, though, leaving little doubt he will start Sunday against the Broncos. If Tannehill is still a bit gimpy, repeated handoffs to his great running back Henry can help ease the pressure on his ankle.

Tannehill’s counterpart Sunday, Russell Wilson, has also been playing hurt this season with right shoulder and hamstring strains, but has been not only healthy following the bye week, but equipped with a play-call cheat sheet. The Broncos had three long touchdown drives in which they went up-tempo and having the play call sheet can help Wilson get the call out quicker.

The way it works is that head coach and offensive play-caller Nathaniel Hackett can send in the play number to Wilson, who then can recite the lengthy play call associated with the number.

“There's a whole process from when I give it to him, to when he has to process it, to when he has to go in there,’’ Hackett said. “Sometimes we get a little elaborate on those things because we're sometimes trying to get a little crazy. So, it allows you to do that. I think it also helps with crowd noise. If you have crowd noise going, from him listening to me, he just has to hear one wristband number, and then he can go in there and communicate to the guys properly. There's a lot of different things that it's good for.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett looks on during the NFL football game between Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium London, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Remember in game 2 against the Houston Texans, when Broncos fans were chanting down the play clock to help out their slow-moving offense get the play off in time? A play-sheet wrist band might have helped prevent that.

“You look around the league and you’re sitting there going, ‘Well, how are we behind in play clocks?’’ Outten said. “How are we doing certain things early on in the season? How can we help this?’ We’re always digging and trying to find things that help us out. This is just something that we can get in his hands.’’


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