ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos put full pads on for the first time since their game Thursday against the Seahawks, and the intensity reflected that. As a few former Broncos looked on, the team's top players lived up to their billing with big-time performances.
Julius Thomascontinued his strong camp, making plays in every period of practice. He beat Rahim Moorefor a good gain in one-on-one drills and made a few contested catches during the team period. He shone brightest though in 7-on-7 in the red zone, catching two touchdowns in a span of three plays through tight traffic. Thomas nearly had a third score two plays later, but David Brutonfought hard as the pair went to the ground and forced the ball loose.
- The Broncos' other Thomas -- Demaryius, of course -- had a nice day as well. He found space on crossing routes a few times in 11-on-11 to pick up good gains. Later, he provided one of the plays of the day, leaping to snatch a pass down the sideline away from
Bradley Robyduring a two-minute drill. Thomas got out of bounds after the big gain, stopping the clock with about five seconds remaining and setting up a chip-shot "game-winning" field goal.
- Rounding out 2013's star pass-catchers,
Wes Welkercaught a touchdown from Manning in red zone work between Moore and T.J. Ward. He made the play even as Moore was flagged for illegal contact. During one-on-ones, Welker had three feisty battles with Tony Carter, winning two for big gains. The latter was perhaps the throw-and-catch of the day, with Manning dropping the ball in perfectly on a seam route and Welker waiting until the last second to show his hands and snatch the pass. "Alright 18, that was a good ball," Aqib Talibcalled from the sidelines.
- Perhaps the player of the day on defense was
Malik Jackson. He fought past Orlando Franklintwice in four tries during line drills and then created and finished a turnover all by himself late in the team period. Jackson got a paw on a line-drive pass from Manning and then pulled in the ricochet for the interception as he fell to the ground, bringing huge cheers from the defense. Brock Osweilerand Nathan Palmerconnected for a pair of touchdowns during 7-on-7. On the first, Osweiler may have run out of time if facing a pass rush, but lofted a gorgeous throw to the back right corner of the endzone where only Palmer could get it. Palmer leapt above Tony Carter, secured the ball and tapped his feet inside the white paint for the score. The next play, Palmer ran an out route to the front left corner of the end zone, pulling in a bullet from Osweiler despite great coverage from Roby.
- Roby and
Cody Latimerhad more tough battles, with the receiver showing his great ball skills by fighting off Roby for the catch on a deep post in one-on-one drills for a touchdown.
- Moore showed great aggression in flying upfield after short passes, arriving for an immediate tackle on several occasions. Most impressive was how he closed on a dumpoff from Osweiler to
Brennan Clay, laying a huge hit on the running back that brought a small roar from the defensive sideline. DeMarcus Warecontinues to look unblockable at times, whether he's tearing around the edge or getting push with a bull rush. He arrived in time for at least a quarterback hit about four or five times, and could have turned in three or four sacks if it were a live game.
- From the other side,
Von Millerhas shown more with every practice that he can still be a terror for opposing offenses. Chris Clarkmade it difficult for Miller time and time again, but Miller still found his way into the backfield frequently. Juwan Thompsonfollowed up his nice performance against Seattle with good work Monday. Most notably, he took a handoff from Manning in red zone drills and squeezed his 5-11, 225-pound frame through the middle of the line and into the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown.
- Another undrafted rookie back, Brennan Clay showed determination on a few carries, powering through tight lanes for good gains. His best run of the day came during 9-on-7 when he fired through a tight window, earning big praise from Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville.
Ryan Cladylooked very steady in pass rush drills, staying calm and well-positioned to contain Ware. Shaquil Barrettflashed an excellent spin move against Winston Justicein line drills, beating him to the inside for an easy "sack." Kenny Anunikecontinues to make plays in pass rush drills and in the team period. Though his celebration in one-on-ones may have been a little much from a rookie, he continues to show he has the ability to harrass quarterbacks and draw double-teams.
- Osweiler and Norwood repeated the chemistry they showed on the game-winning touchdown Thursday night, with Osweiler dropping in a nice pass up the seam for a big gain late in practice.
- Longtime Broncos kicker Jason Elam and former safety Brian Dawkins were both at practice. Dawkins chatted with several players and coaches, as well as Hall of Fame safety Rod Woodson, who is with the Broncos as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.
- Air Force personnel attended practice as well and talked with players afterward.
- The team opened its stretching period to Manning's new DirecTV music video "Fantasy Football Fantasy," bringing plenty of smiles, laughs and jokes from teammates.
- Even though he missed practice, Emmanuel Sanders worked on routes afterward, catching passes from the equipment staff.
Quanterus Smithand Lerentee McCraypracticed one-on-one on hand placement and pass rush moves off to the side. Bradley Roby and Woodson drilled hand use and leverage in press coverage.