Broncos coach Sean Payton sheds light on offseason workouts

Amid the Broncos’ 50-minute pre-NFL Draft news conference which coach Sean Payton jokingly called record-setting in terms of time, he shed some light on Phase One of the team’s offseason workouts.

From the time the players returned to the facility this month, Payton has put a shield around the team, limiting media access, including to recent free-agent additions. On Thursday, Payton broke his silence to some degree, sharing his excitement for seeing the players and putting faces to names.

“It’s our first chance to meet and interact,” Payton said. “It was kind of like quiet crickets in here for a while, and then last Tuesday was the beginning of it. We’re a little over a week, and it’s great to be meeting a lot of these players.”

Payton’s vision for his offseason program is similar to his mentor, Bill Parcells, whom he worked for during his time as an assistant for the Dallas Cowboys from 2003-05. He has the players solely focused on lifting and running this month, adding “I don’t want them to feel like they’re pulling into the parking lot and coming to football practice in April.”

NFL teams can move from Phase One — the league limits teams to only strength and conditioning work, rehab time and meetings — after two weeks, but Payton said at the league’s spring ownership meeting last month that he plans to keep his team in the weight room much longer than that. Phase Two includes three weeks of on-field workouts and then Phase Three is Organized Team Activities, which the Broncos have slated to begin the week of May 23. All of that work is voluntary and the offseason program concludes with a mandatory three-day minicamp slated for June 13-15.

In the meantime, Payton is getting to know most of his players in person for the first time since he arrived in Denver in early February.

“It’s gone well with putting names with faces because for a month, (general manager George Paton) and I would talk about our personnel,” Payton said. “I’m getting the names down, but they’re like magnets on a grease board until you actually get a chance to see them.”

Payton’s approach to offseason workouts might be beneficial. Last season, the Broncos had 25 players on the injured reserve list, tied for third-most in the league, according to Spotrac. Payton’s offseason approach, along with the addition of Beau Lowry, the team’s vice president of player health and performance, could change the narrative in 2023.

“I think Beau is a game-changer,” Broncos general manager George Paton said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Sean has been speaking about him since our first interview. Then you talk to the people at LSU, the people at the Saints, and he’s very progressive, data-oriented on the medical side. He’s going to bring it all together. He’ll be over the top. We have a lot of good people in our building. He’ll bring everything together — strength and conditioning, in the training room, nutrition. Very humble, (and) has a great way about him.”

Under Payton, there haven’t been any team meetings thus far. The Broncos will continue to run and lift for three more weeks before transitioning to Phase Two, where they will begin introducing the offensive and defensive game plan.

“If there’s a question, it’s how the weights are going,” Payton said. “We see these guys running in the morning when we come in here for draft meetings. We’re not in a meeting room setting.”

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