ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Vic Fangio looked comfortable in his baggy sweats, and Joe Flacco looked right at home in his spiffy blue and orange No. 5 jersey when the Denver Broncos held their first on-field workouts under their new head coach and their new quarterback. In an unusual twist, Fangio, who’s getting his first taste of being a head coach after four decades as a defensive assistant, is having his team practice in game jerseys during the voluntary veteran minicamp.
“The whole reason we do that is to cut down on the grabbing,” Fangio said Tuesday. “When you wear the loose shirts, it’s very easy, almost unavoidable, for the players to grab each other. Whether it be wideouts, DBs, the interior linemen, it’s just so easy to grab those loose jerseys.
“It’s not easy to grab in the game because they’re tight. So we want to make it game-like as much as we can.”
The Broncos, who play an extra preseason game this summer, were one of the first teams to begin their offseason program two weeks ago. Some teams reported this week for classroom and weight room work.
Fangio, whose team opens the preseason slate against Atlanta in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, was glad to finally hit the field with his players.
“It felt good. It was good to get out there with the guys,” Fangio said. “We’ve been meeting with them the last two weeks, so it was good to get out there and see if they could execute on their feet what they’ve been learning the last couple weeks.”
He admitted he has to fight his instincts to focus only on the defense.
“If I was just the defensive coordinator I probably would’ve been talking some smack out there, but I have to refrain from that a little bit,” Fangio cracked. “I’ll still be talking, both ways. I can be on the winning side either way now.”
Fangio said Flacco is fitting in fine so far, although it’s way too early to judge anyone.
“We’re in the learning stage right now. I don’t think we’re in the evaluation stage yet,” Fangio said.
But he did say Flacco looked comfortable working with first-time offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.
Fangio said he hasn’t had any contact with cornerback Chris Harris Jr. since the offseason program began. Harris is training in Dallas on his own as he angles for a contract extension. General manager John Elway has said he’ll visit the issue after the draft.
“It’s just part of the NFL landscape,” Fangio said.
Like Fangio, Flacco was glad to finally get to practice with his new team.
“It’s always fun to get back out there and play football,” Flacco said. “Obviously it was a little bit of a new situation for me, so getting my feet wet was a good process, even going out for the walkthrough this morning and going into the huddle and calling a play for the first time was new. It was good to get that over with.”
Flacco is the oldest man on the roster, but feels like a rookie.
“It’s funny. I figured it would take a week or so before it wasn’t so awkward finding a seat in the cafeteria,” Flacco said, smiling. “You kind of take that that for granted being so easy. All of a sudden you’re the new guy and you have to just sit down with somebody and dive right in.
Flacco said his wife and kids are still back in New Jersey and won’t come out until training camp.
“I’m on ‘easy street.’ My wife is at home with five kids and I’m just playing football for a few hours a day,” Flacco said. “It does give me a chance to build relationships with guys, go out to dinner with them, go out on the golf course. I think those are the things that you take for granted.
“Back when you were in college and that’s all you had to do, it was easy to build team camaraderie because you were able to do that all of the time. The fact that I can do that this time of year, I think that’s really important.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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