Ed Andrieski/Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD – He’s a big, raw Denver Broncos quarterback with throwing issues who worked with UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone on his own time to fix flaws.
While Tim Tebow’s messy mechanics needed tons of work, Brock Osweiler needs more tweaks than anything, and he worked this offseason with Mazzone, who was his offensive coordinator at Arizona State and also served as Tebow’s throwing coach.
The Broncos’ second-round draft pick took the field at Dove Valley for the first time Friday, participating in the team’s three-day rookie minicamp.
Although his right elbow at times dropped below his shoulder and winged out a bit, the 6-8 quarterback showed he’s making plenty of progress in capitalizing on his superior size.
Some of his throws were so quick, it looked like he was flicking the ball to his receivers.
“This is my first practice with this new throwing motion; I felt very comfortable with it,” Osweiler said. “I felt more consistent with my accuracy. Where I was trying to put the ball, for the most part the ball ended up there. So I was very happy with it; now I’ve just got to keep building upon that.”
At times he reverted to his old habits, and quarterbacks coach Adam Gase let him know it.
Coach John Fox said Osweiler’s work with Mazzone is paying off.
“I think when we went there to Arizona State for a private workout, you could tell that he’d worked on his delivery,” Fox said. “It used to be a little bit lower. Guys tweak stuff, whether it’s golfers with golf swings or you know players with motions and whatnot. It’s not radical. He needs to use his height advantage a little bit better with that higher delivery. He was an accurate passer. I think he became more accurate.”
Osweiler’s old throwing motion at times negated his height advantage over pass-rushers.
“I would say the main thing would be getting my elbow raised up. A lot of times in college, my elbow would drop below my shoulder, and when you do that, you lose velocity, you lose accuracy, you’re less consistent with your throws,” Osweiler said. “So, we basically made a huge point to bring that elbow up to a more traditional throwing motion and get it above my shoulder.”
The question facing Osweiler, who threw for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, is whether he can iron things out enough over the next two months to push free agent Caleb Hanie for the No. 2 job behind Peyton Manning this summer.
That, and why did he pick jersey No. 6, which was Jay Cutler’s old number before his messy divorce with the Broncos three years ago?
“There’s absolutely no significance,” Osweiler said. “Basically, I was told that I couldn’t have 17,” which belongs to receiver Andre Caldwell, “So, I basically just ... picked a number.”
Only then did he realize it used to be Cutler’s.
“But, whatever,” Osweiler said. “It’s a number, and hopefully I’ll do some good things with it.”
Osweiler said it was nice to get this “freshmen orientation” at the rookie minicamp before having to mix it up with veterans.
“It’s awesome. You think your head might be spinning, and then you look to the receiver next to you, and his head’s probably spinning even faster,” Osweiler said. “We’re all on one ship; we’re going down this river together.”
Osweiler was joined by 29 other greenhorns at practice Friday, not counting Fox, who never had run a rookie minicamp as a head coach.
“With the way the rules were, I had always combined our rookies and veterans together,” Fox said. “So, that not being permitted, this is actually the first rookie camp I’ve ever conducted as a head coach, and it was good effort, and it went very well.”
Although Fox prefers to work out rookies and veterans together, he’s just glad to have these opportunities after last year’s lockout wiped out the team-building workouts leading up to training camp.
“I think it limited us as a staff – offense, defense and kicking game – on the number of things you install just because your time frame for that installation was less a year ago,” Fox said. “Shoot, when we reported last year, I had to have name tags on their helmets just so I knew who they were.
“I think getting to know guys really helps because you know what buttons to push and you know their personalities. This will give us more time to get to know the players.”