- Though he's missed significant time in the last few weeks, Sanders was back in rhythm from the start of Thursday's practice, picking up right where he left off in a strong camp. In 7-on-7 drills in
the red zone, Peyton Manningfound him on consecutive plays for touchdowns, first on an out route and then on a slant. When the teams moved to 11-on-11, Sanders snuck along the back line of the end zone and Manning threw a late floater, hitting Sanders for another touchdown. Brock Osweilerconnected with Jacob Tammeand then Greg Hardinfor a pair of touchdowns during 7-on-7. Tamme's score appeared to be a blown assignment, as the tight end trotted across the goal line after catching the pass on a crossing route. Hardin's touchdown was much more difficult, with Osweiler firing a pass to the back line of the end zone and the rookie receiver leaping to make the grab before toe-tapping in bounds for the score.
- In 11-on-11 drills in the red zone,
Ronnie Hillmanflashed his speed and agility, bouncing outside Texans safety D.J. Swearinger and cruising to the pylon for six points. Brandon Marshallcontinues to look like a capable fill-in for the injured Trevathan, again making plays with the starters. Though running plays without pads are limited, Marshall filled holes quickly on multiple occasions. In red-zone 11-on-11, he made a nice deflection that Rahim Mooreand Chris Harris Jr.were close to intercepting. Corey Nelsonhas steadily earned a larger role since the start of training camp, playing frequently in passing situations and showing good awareness in coverage. Thursday, he made a few nice breaks on the ball, knocking down a pass to Texans tight end Zach Potter and nearly scooping up an interception after a pass hit the hands of Steven Johnson.
- For all the times Bronco defenders got their hands on the ball during practice, it was just a little too slippery to snare for an interception. Johnson, Moore and
Louis Youngall got two hands on passes by Texans quarterbacks but couldn't come up with the catch. Even Kevin Vickersonjust missed grabbing a pick. After he tipped a Case Keenum pass at the line, the ball fluttered just behind his head, hitting the ground harmlessly.
- With preparation for Saturday's game the primary focus, much less time was spent with the Broncos facing the Texans during practice. Each team ran its own walk-through period after individual periods and there were no inter-team battles in the trenches as there had been in days past. When in full team drills, pass rushes seemed to be toned back some as well.
- The teams finished practice in various situational drills, ranging from punting out of the end zone and fair-catch kicks to onside-kick attempts and field-goal fire drills. In the latter, the offense ran a play on third-and-10 with 22 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, having the field-goal unit sprint on the field to attempt a game-winning kick on the fly.
- Former Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley was at practice Thursday, chatting with former teammates Manning and Tamme afterward.