Not long ago, a vocal portion of the Denver Broncos fan base wouldn’t have despaired at left tackle Garett Bolles missing practice.
Bolles was gone part of the day Thursday due to what coach Vic Fangio called a “minor family matter.”
The former first-rounder’s frequent holding calls didn’t endear him to Denver.
“It's got to stop. Period. There are no more excuses for it,” John Elway said on a radio show of Bolles’ penalty troubles.
The team declined Bolles’ fifth-year option in May.
Now in a contract year, Bolles has impressed. He hasn’t allowed a sack through four games and has been called for two holding penalties, with one enforced. His stock has risen while fighting through an elbow injury, as Fangio pointed out.
“Guys are allowed to change. Guys are allowed to improve,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “Guys are allowed to produce at a higher level than they did in the past. I think he’s done all those things.”
“He’s tough, he’s durable, he knows what he’s doing, and he’s been very effective here in the first quarter of the season.”
Guard Dalton Risner said Bolles has worked well with offensive line coach Mike Munchak and “cleaned up a lot of things.”
“There isn’t one guy on the team I want to see succeed more than Garrett Boles. He’s been through it,” Risner said.
“Very (few) people have supported or believed in him when things were tough and I hate to say it, but Garrett’s showing everyone what he’s made of.”
Fangio said quarterback Drew Lock had a good practice and “definitely” could start Sunday against the New England Patriots, though the Broncos staff will hold off on making that final call.
Melvin Gordon practiced Thursday after missing the previous day. He was charged with a DUI on Tuesday night.
Fangio called cornerback A.J. Bouye doubtful for Sunday, while tight end Noah Fant “did a little more today” and was “truly questionable, 50-50.”
Good (and bad) bye
Defensive linemen Dre'Mont Jones and DeMarcus Walker would have been eligible to return this week if the Broncos had played last week as originally scheduled, Fangio said, calling it an “unintended consequence.”
But the extra week gave the Broncos time to delve deeper, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said.
“The big thing was there was a break there, where our players were not in the facility for a couple days, to reengage them, teach the same information to them differently, and then also take it to another level because we had more time to get a deeper understanding of their opponent,” Donatell said.