ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Thursday's practice was the final organized team activity of 2013. Next week's sessions fall under a different category of work (minicamp), and unlike the OTAs, are mandatory. But the tenor of the work will be the same: contact is limited and the emphasis is on instruction.
The biggest change?
"We’ll keep the players (at team headquarters) in the afternoon. Have more meetings and a second (session) -- a walk-through in the afternoon," Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "Installation-wise, we’ve pretty much thrown everything at them over the first ten OTAs, so we’ll just pick up and really want to just finish with next week’s minicamp, finish strong this offseason."
Thursday, it was all about finishing OTAs on a high note. Here's a few thoughts from my pages of practice notes:
1. One of the most difficult roster decisions will be at wide receiver behind
"It’s a deep group. I think each guy has really developed in his own way. The biggest thing for them is learning the play quicker and the mental aspect of it," Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said.
But, he cautioned, the backup receivers aren't where the Broncos want them yet.
"I think they’re starting to head in that direction. We still have a ways to go, though," Gase said.
It might be hard to truly handicap this race until preseason games. When factoring in returner
2. Running back
3. It would be easy to overlook
4. Another competition worth watching in training camp will be at safety.
"David Bruton’s had a nice spring and is getting some snaps with the ones right now. He’s just earned it," Del Rio said. "He’s played so well and done so well in practice. He’s taken charge, he’s one of our better communicators and he’s been a good special teams player here."
But Bruton's play, which has been solid through OTAs, goes beyond the cerebral to his physical advantages. At 217 pounds, Bruton is the Broncos' heaviest safety. He's also arguably their fastest. Both came in handy when he swooped in to break up a potential Manning pass to tight end
“It (size) is an advantage. I feel like my speed would probably be the bigger advantage," Bruton said.
5. Holliday will get every opportunity to be more than a returner. Given the game-day roster crunch -- just 46 active spots -- the Broncos need him to provide some potential offensive contributions. During OTAs, he's made some nice catches on offense, but his Thursday was punctuated by a drop of a potential touchdown pass from Osweiler, who found him deep down the sideline.Holliday is the fastest player on the roster, and plays like it; he gets a great jump off the snap and his straight-ahead speed might be the best in the NFL -- which you'd expect, given that he was once a world-class sprinter who made it to the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials. But until he puts the bobbles behind him, the questions that arose last year during his spate of fumbles will linger.