+The Denver Post
|Photo Courtesy: +USA TODAY Sports - USATSI|
Aqib Talib wasn't around to stand strong as a rocketing Percy Harvin swept toward the right corner of the Denver defense.
Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the last time the Broncos were together, they didn't have Ryan Clady protecting Peyton Manning's blind side, or Will Montgomery available to snap, or T.J. Ward to come up from his strong safety position against a spinning Jermaine Kearse.
For the first time since that awful performance against the +Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos will gather as a team Monday at their Dove Valley headquarters to begin the first phase of the offseason.
When they do convene, the returning Broncos will say hello to Ware, Talib, Ward, Montgomery and receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who were signed as free agents. The Broncos will welcome back a healthier Clady, Miller, Kevin Vickerson, Chris Harris, Rahim Moore and Derek Wolfe.
"It's almost like Ryan Clady was a free-agent acquisition," Manning said last week. "He didn't play last year (after tearing his Lisfranc in Game 2). Von Miller is like a new player, and Derek Wolfe. It will be nice to get some of the guys that were injured and get them back on the field to go along with some of the new players that we've added. I'm looking forward to going to work with them."
But the Broncos' embarrassing 43-8 loss to Seattle in the final game of the NFL season showed they were not a great team.
"We want to all start working and get that sour taste out of our mouths," Miller said.
The injured players like Miller have been permitted to hang around the Broncos' facility throughout the offseason so they could rehab under the care of the team's medical and trainer staff. Everybody goes to work Monday.
Phase I is primarily for conditioning. Players lift weights and run, but the coaches can't be on the practice fields with them. Quarterbacks can throw to unguarded receivers. And it's safe to assume Manning and backups Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert will take advantage of this practice exception.
Phase II, which begins May 5, is when coaches can instruct players during individual and position-specific drills, but there can't be any 11-on-11 team work.
The Broncos will have organized team activity (OTA) periods, Phase III, beginning May 28. They will spread out 13 team practices until June 19. The team then will break until reporting to training camp. The reporting date is tentatively scheduled for July 24.
Once again, the Broncos will be among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, as they were in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. They went far both years but did not finish.
When the 2014 Broncos gather Monday for the first time, they will start 0-0.
"I think forming that chemistry takes time," Manning said. "It's not an overnight process. That's something that we have done in the past. I think that's been a big part of some of the wins we've had is our offseason work and how guys have spent time together and put the time in together. I think you have to keep doing it every single offseason. I think we will do that, and I'm looking forward to having a good season next year."
Broncos' offseason schedule
Monday: Players start weight- lifting and conditioning. Quarterbacks can throw to uncovered receivers.
May 5: Phase II begins with coaches instructing players during individual and position-specific drills.
May 8-10: NFL draft. The Broncos have a pick in each of the seven rounds.
May 16-18: Rookie minicamp.
May 28-30: OTA I.
June 2-4: OTA II.
June 10-12: Mandatory minicamp.
June 16-19: OTA III.
July 24: Tentative date for team to report to training camp.
Read more: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos going back to work with offseason duty - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_25604748/peyton-manning-denver-broncos-going-back-work-offseason#ixzz2zg8J6HSg