ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos have two more days to end their organized team activities on a high point. But their last offseason on-field work in front of media for 2015 was anything but a peak in Head Coach Gary Kubiak's eyes; it was pockmarked with miscues and dropped passes.
"Let me be honest with you, we didn't practice [well] today," Kubiak said. "We were kind of sloppy and we were down some people. We did get going and practiced better at the end of practice but we've got to push through. It wasn't our best day, that's for sure."
That didn't mean there weren't some good performances on the day, but missed opportunities held back the offense at times. At the end of practice, the No. 1 offense drove to a
The absence of some receivers pushed Palmer up the ladder. That's where the takeaways from Monday's organized team activity begin.
"We were very short at practice at wide receiver and defensive line, but we made it through," Kubiak said.
2. MANNING STEPS UP IN THE HURRY-UP.
To the surprise of no one, Manning flourished when the Broncos went into the two-minute drill, recovering from some difficulty on his first series to guide the offense to a touchdown on the second.
"He struggled one period and he took them right down the next period," Kubiak said. "But I think he's getting real comfortable with what we are doing and then there's times we're turning loose with what he's done and obviously that's an easy comfort zone for him."
Manning displayed a good feel for the pass rush, adeptly stepping forward to elude one
Manning also showed his usual ability to drop the football into the narrowest of windows. He found Anderson near the left sideline, dropping the pass in despite skin-tight coverage from linebacker
3. KENNY ANUNIKE TAKES CHARGE.
Before suffering a season-ending elbow injury late in last year's preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys, then-undrafted rookie
This year, he's tried to pick up where he left off -- albeit from a different position. Although fellow 4-3 defensive end
The continued absence of
Anunike played at 260 pounds last year, but is now between 270 and 275 pounds. That still leaves him as the Broncos' lightest defensive lineman by a 10-to-15-pound margin, but he's able to use that to his advantage.
"No question. Being a little bit smaller guy in there, I'm able to use my agility (and) my speed to get around those bigger, heavier guards and get back there on the quarterback and make those TFLs [tackles for losses] that I was making out there today," Anunike explained.
During one period late in practice, he wreaked havoc, swatting away one Dysert pass at the line of scrimmage and surging past
But Anunike's tipped passes -- one each against Dysert and Osweiler -- might have been his most impressive plays of the day. On both, he didn't have a big pass-rush lane, so he pulled back and moved inside to get in better position to deflect the attempts. This is exactly what the Broncos' defensive coaches want to see: linemen who quickly get their hands up.
This also helps allow the linemen to capitalize on the pressure from the outside. If they're in position to deflect passes, they give the quarterback no safe option, whether, inside, outside or throwing into a thicket of upraised arms.
"We have two perennial Pro Bowlers in DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller coming off the edge. Those quarterbacks, they see it, and they feel that pressure. So what are they going to do? Naturally, they're going to step up," Anunike said. "That's going to give us guys in the 3-[technique], the 5-[technique], the nose, the shade and the four-technique an opportunity to get that quarterback when he steps up."
Every repetition Sambrailo receives against Ware helps. There won't be many instances in the regular season when Sambrailo must contend with anyone tougher and more athletic than the eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro.
Ware generated pressure early in practice, but as the session went on, Sambrailo settled down. He did a better job getting in position to guide Ware outside the pocket and behind Manning, from which point the quarterback stepped up and made his throws. When Ware went inside, left guard
The left-side duo also helped spring Anderson for one of his better runs, quickly getting outside to clear the way for an Anderson sweep to the left.
The challenge for Sambrailo and Garland cranks up when the pads go on for training camp in August. But if they can hold their own against Ware and defensive end
During one period, Barth missed wide right, then hit a re-kick and another attempt after that. One of the attempts he hit in practice saw the football bounce off the right upright and through the goal posts.
McManus missed wide right and also hit the left and right uprights during his work Monday. McManus' leg strength remains his greatest asset; on a missed 55-yarder, the football hit halfway up the left upright; if it had possessed the accuracy, it might have been good from 70 yards.
Kubiak wasn't watching the kickers, but he was aware of their struggles.
"Somebody told me they missed a few," he said. "I'll go back and look but obviously it wasn't good enough today, but we'll see."
Kubiak reiterated DeCamillis' sentiments about preferring not to use one of the 53 spots on someone who specializes in kickoffs.
"I think you'd love to have that roster spot somewhere else," Kubiak said. "I think things happen to you during the season where you have to do things differently and I think that's what happened here last year. So, we'll see how it works out."
Dysert made some good decisions during his work Monday, none better than when he escaped the pocket after outside linebacker
… Rookie nose tackle
… Outside linebacker
… Running back
… David Bruton and