Year 1 of the Russell Wilson experience for the Denver Broncos officially got underway Monday as the team went through the first day of a three-day voluntary veteran minicamp.
The Broncos completed the blockbuster trade to obtain Wilson in March, and he has since quickly found his way around the city at sporting events and the Children’s Hospital. His purchase of a suburban Denver mansion became a viral sensation.
But Monday was the first time Wilson and the rest of his teammates were on the field with Broncos first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett and the team’s staff.
It was a heavyweight battle of enthusiasm and energy with Hackett filling in at running back to work through some play-action scenarios when many of the team’s players were in special-teams drills.
“I told him at the end, congratulations on our first practice together,” Wilson said. “… To give him little handoffs here and there, somebody called him ‘White Lightning,’ I don’t know, but he looked good over there.”
“I always wanted to play running back,” Hackett said. “… There was some special teams going on … we’ve got to get out there and give them a look, I feel like I have it a realistic look.”
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Asked about his 40 time, Hackett added “let’s not talk about that.”
Wilson has spent time with the team’s pass-catchers and running backs in recent weeks, first at throwing sessions in San Diego shortly after the trade to go with some workouts locally as the Broncos opened their offseason program April 16.
But the existing minicamp, though still limited by the league’s offseason practice rules, was the first practice with all of the coaches mingling with all of the players. And it was clear Wilson’s presence has changed the dynamic of things.
“This guy loves practice, out there at there at the end, he’s like ‘We’re done, can’t we do more?’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’d love to, but baby steps,'” Hackett said of Wilson.
“To be here, standing right here, now that I’m here, it feels right,” Wilson said. “It feels great, I’m excited about it, and also too, at the same time, there’s a lot more to do.”
Hackett stated the Broncos are in the beginning of the installation of the playbook on offense.
“[Monday] was just kind of the very basics of what we do,” he said. “Then we’ll slowly start expanding that with the guys through Phase 2 and the OTAs.”
The Broncos have missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, and Wilson, when he starts Week 1, will be the 11th different quarterback and 12th different player to start a game behind center for the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired after the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win.
Running back Phillip Lindsay started behind center versus the New Orleans Saints during the 2020 season. “Been an amazing experience so far,” Wilson said. “… If I was going to go somewhere, I had to go somewhere that wanted to win. And this is one of those places that definitely wants to do that.”
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