Broncos DC Vance Joseph had high praise for LB Drew Sanders

On one of the hottest training camp days of the summer, Broncos defensive coordinator Vance Joseph on Wednesday served up a cool, refreshing glass of intrigue.

The subject: Rookie inside linebacker Drew Sanders.

At 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, the first-year defender is hard to miss on the field. Working mostly with the No. 2 units throughout camp, he’s made some flashy plays and showed his size and range in myriad ways. He’s also working through the typical rookie bumps in the road.

But to hear Joseph tell it, we haven’t seen anything yet as it pertains to the former Arkansas standout.

“He’s a talent. He can really run and he’s really smart,” Joseph said. “We’ve got some things that he’s going to do in the fall that we won’t show right now. He’s all in. Right now, we’re focused on playing him at linebacker and being a good dime for us on third down. He’s improving every single day.”

Sean Payton referred to Sanders as a “pressure player” after the draft, meaning he’s projected as a guy who can be an effective pass-rusher. Those same traits allowed him to run with Jaleel McLaughlin stride-for-stride up the sideline in coverage earlier this week and to regularly track down plays all the way out to the sideline.

“He makes a play a day that nobody else can make,” Joseph said. “So, the talent is obvious. It’s just time-on-task with him.”

No HOF for Shanahan, Reeves in 2024. Another year, another so-close-yet-so-far-away disappointment for Mike Shanahan.

The coach/contributor committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday advanced former Detroit head coach Buddy Parker forward as the category’s lone finalist for 2024 induction, passing over Denver’s two-time Super Bowl champion coach and others.

Parker, who died in 1982 at the age of 68, is credited with inventing the two-minute offense and led Detroit to championships in 1952 and ’53.

Shanahan has made the final 12 each of the past two years but has not yet been the committee’s choice. Nor has former Denver head coach Dan Reeves, who was also among the final 12 in consideration.

QB3 impressing. With only 53 roster spots once the regular season rolls around, most NFL teams don’t want to have to carry more than two quarterbacks.

One question the Broncos will have to answer in the coming weeks is if they think they can get No. 3 quarterback Ben DiNucci to the practice squad or if the risk of waiving him on Aug. 29 is too great.

DiNucci’s been smooth in camp and led a 10-play, 87-yard touchdown drive against Arizona on Friday night. For him to win the No. 2 job behind Russell Wilson, he’d have to convince the Broncos to keep three because Jarrett Stidham has $5 million guaranteed on a two-year deal and is unlikely to be cut.

Clearly, though, DiNucci came off an impressive XFL season this spring and impressed Denver’s staff.

“Even in rookie camp I was impressed with how fast he was able to spit back the plays in the huddle,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said.

“He’s just got that magic moxie. Can make plays,” Lombardi added. “Sometimes he does stuff — he put the ball behind his back today, we’re not encouraging that at all. But he’s a fun guy. He’s one of those guys where you always feel like you have a chance.”

Broncos sign RB. Denver on Wednesday signed veteran running back Dwayne Washington and waived defensive lineman Forrest Merrill with an injury designation.

Washington has played in 83 career games and spent the past five seasons in New Orleans.

Merrill played Friday against Arizona but had missed the entire week of practice since then.

Washington got sporadic backfield work for the Saints, carrying 58 times for 283 yards. He played 80% of New Orleans’ special teams snaps in 2022 and has been 64% or higher on special teams snaps each of the past four years.

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