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Mason's Five Thoughts: John Boyett, Juwan Thompson and Andre Caldwell

Posted Aug 9, 2014

John Boyett has earned notice for his aggressive play. Saturday, he made a great play on the ball to highlight his day.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos got back to work on Saturday, but it was a quiet practice in which the most memorable image was that of Montee Ball on the sideline, back with his teammates five days after an appendectomy.

Ball says he's working on core strength and expects to begin running in the next week, with further milestones to be determined depending on his progress. Week 1 remains his target. For now, the opportunity falls to other running backs, which is where we start Five Thoughts for the 17th day of training camp.

1. Ball's recovery from an appendectomy and the time C.J. Anderson will miss because of a concussion allowed Juwan Thompson to see some snaps alongside Peyton Manning during Saturday's work.

Thompson's place on the depth chart -- fourth among all running backs, but second among the healthy ones -- made this possible. With no pads for the practice, Thompson had a chance to ease into the increased demands without the threat of being blown up in blitz pickup.

He quickly learned he had to on point with Manning nearby.

"When you're on the field, it's just 100 percent focus. Know what you're doing at all times, and even when there's something new that happens out here, just carry it back into the locker room, write it down so you can remember it for later, because the same thing may come up again," Thompson said.

2. The performance of the running backs -- and the expected recovery of Ball and Anderson -- means that status quo regarding the position is an option for Head Coach John Fox.

Although Fox noted that he's always looking to improve the roster through any means, he affirmed his faith in the running backs he has on hand.

"Right now there is nothing pressing. We feel pretty good about the group we have," he said.

3. Safety John Boyett is known as one of the biggest hitters on the Broncos, evidenced by the ferocious shoulder-to-hip shot he placed on Seattle wide receiver Ricardo Lockette with 3:42 remaining in Thursday's 21-16 win.

During Saturday's practice, Boyett was playing deep when Brock Osweiler tried to hit Greg Hardin deep for a touchdown. Osweiler's throw sailed a bit, and Boyett made a good read on the football to intercept it at the goal line. He briefly considered a lateral while beginning his return, but thought better of it.

The Broncos' depth at safety makes pushing for playing time a challenge for Boyett, who was on the practice squad last year and might find himself in the same spot this year. But his knack for being at the center of plays makes him an intriguing prospect.

4. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. took another step in his recovery by taking part in the team periods early in the practice. Prior to Saturday, he had been limited to seven-on-seven work, which was the next step forward from the individual work he began seeing July 30, his first practice after being cleared by Dr. James Andrews in a six-month examination.

Harris is rounding into form. His cuts and breaks are becoming sharper each day. Although the Broncos will be cautious -- and understandably so -- with over four weeks left until Week 1, he appears to be on track.

5. Emmanuel Sanders' absence Saturday opened some more first-team work for Andre Caldwell, and he ran one of his best routes of camp, a flag route in which he made a sharp cut, allowing him to get separation for the touchdown reception from Manning. Caldwell's value remains clear: he has good timing with Manning, and can line up at any wide receiver spot and be effective.