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Competition in Practice Brings out the Best

Posted May 28, 2013

With Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, competition in Broncos practices is making everybody better.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – It’s not often that a 12-time Pro Bowl quarterback and a 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback are on the field at the same time.

But that’s the case every day the Broncos practice at Dove Valley, with quarterback Peyton Manning working against Champ Bailey.

“To go against our defense, to go against our secondary players like Champ and (Chris) Harris (and) our new secondary players—it’s always good work going against really good players,” Manning said.

The competition will also help make every player better, which will benefit the team once the regular season comes around.

With players looking to elevate their status on the depth chart, nobody is taking any plays off in practice.

“When we’re going against the DBs, it’s competitive,” Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said. “And those guys know every play that they make, somebody’s looking. ‘Oh, that was a nice play.’ So they know that the competition is so tight, that every play those guys make, it could elevate them to maybe that next spot.”

The addition of free agent wide receiver Wes Welker gives the Broncos a third wideout who topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark last season -- joining Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas who did so with Denver in 2012.

“We arguably have the best receiving corps in the NFL right now,” running back Ronnie Hillman said. “A guy like Peyton and those guys, that’s going to be a nightmare for a lot of people come September.”

The addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie adds even more depth and experience to the cornerback group that was led by Bailey and Chris Harris to rank as Pro Football Focus’ top duo in 2012.

That unit now has a pair of Pro Bowlers to go with up-and-coming cornerback Harris, who Pro Football Focus called a “secret superstar,” Tony Carter, who like Harris scored a pair of defensive touchdowns last season, 2012 fourth-round draft pick Omar Bolden and 2013 third-round pick, Kayvon Webster.

“We are so stacked at corner,” Bailey said. “We have so many guys that can play. I’m anxious to see what our draft picks do and Omar from last year. These guys are going to be what really keep us together.”

Though it’s only been a few days of OTA practices with the 2013 group, Bailey can already see improvement from the young group of wide receivers.

“I’ve seen Welker so much throughout his career, but just the improvement of Decker and Thomas—these two guys, I’ve seen them grow so much in this game," Bailey said. "And you think they can’t get better, they’ve even gotten better this year. It just seems like the chemistry with Peyton is a lot better as well. That being said, the sky is the limit for them.”

Thomas said that a big reason for that improvement that Bailey has seen is from the work they do in practice against one another.

“They’ve got a lot of good ones, from ‘DRC’ to Chris to Tony, of course, Champ,” Thomas said. “I feel like that’s going to help us out as a group of receivers. They’ve got a lot of corners over there that can make us better every day.”