Peyton Manningis consistently so good he is rarely a focus of this space, but his accuracy Thursday deserves particular praise. In the 1-on-1 drills specifically -- which were done from the 5-yard line -- Manning continued to put the ball in the perfect spot. His best throw was an out route to Andre Caldwellthat Aqib Talibwould have intercepted if the throw was anything less than perfect. It just exceeded Talib's reach, and Caldwell snagged it for the touchdown. Von Millerlooks more spry with each passing day. He got to Manning for at least one sack in team drills and showed off a very flashy spin move to beat Chris Clarkin 1-on-1s, capping the move with a twirling takedown of the tackling dummy. Orlando Franklinhad himself a very nice day,starting with excellent push up the middle with the offense backed up near its own goal line. He worked with Manny Ramirezto clear a nice lane for Ronnie Hillman, who picked up six or seven yards. In red-zone work Franklin and Ryan Cladyhandled calmly a stunt from Terrance Knightonand DeMarcus Ware, setting their feet and swapping assignments at the right moment. A few plays later, Franklin sealed Ware inside to allow C.J. Anderson to sneak through for a three-yard touchdown. Marvin Austincontinues to make plays wherever he goes. He came free up the middle for a sack and safety of Brock Osweilerearly in team drills and then dominated several different opponents in 1-on-1 pass rush drills. Austin capped the day with a run stuff of Juwan Thompsonon a two-point conversion attempt. "[Thompson] tried to run his legs, but I’m a little bit too strong for that," Austin said after practice, smiling. Malik Jacksonalso had a strong day in the trenches, turning in another safety for the second-team defense when he slipped by Ben Garlandand into the backfield to get to Thompson. Jackson helped stop Thompson on the next play for very little gain, and earned a sack of Osweiler in the next team period. Jackson also gave Louis Vasqueza rare defeat in pass-rush drills, beating him to the outside with a swim move. Bradley Robywas in excellent position in coverage throughout the day and gave Cody Latimera very tough time in 1-on-1 work. Latimer came down with a fade route to the corner of the end zone over Roby, but Roby forced him out of bounds before he could get two feet in. Their next faceoff drew the same throw, and again Latimer gathered the ball, only for Roby to force it free on the way to the ground.
- Unfortunately for Roby, it was deja vu during the two-minute drill near the end of practice. On Monday, Manning and DemaryiusThomas connected for a big gain on a go route despite perfect coverage fromRoby. It happened again Thursday, with Thomas going up and snatching a passaway from the rookie down the sideline, setting up the "game-winning" field goal as time expired.
Julius Thomaswas a terror in red-zone 1-on-1s, beating T.J. Wardand Rahim Moorefor a total of three touchdowns. He beat Ward to the corner pylon to catch a fade from Manning and later used his body to box Ward out on a slant. Against Moore, Manning hit Thomas on the back shoulder of a fade route, where Thomas corralled the ball with one hand and pulled it in for the TD. Thomas added a big gain in team drills on a corner route, with Manning finding him just between Ward and Aqib Talib near the sideline.
- As usual,
Virgil Greenmade his presence felt as a blocker, with consecutive plays that stood out. First, he handled Ware 1-on-1 to provide Manning with time for a big gain. A play later, Green sealed theleft edge of the line to allow Hillman to scoot around the outside for 15 yards or so.
- Ward continues to show he's dangerous as a blitzer, providing pressure twice in three plays late in team drills. He fought through a block from Hillman for a near sack of Manning, before coming off the edge with Ware and Miller two plays later, with Ware cleaning up the sack.
- Working in the injured Danny Trevathan's spot,
Brandon Marshallshowed a great feel for the run game, appearing in the lane for several stops throughout the day. John Boyettflashed again, turning in two interceptions of Zac Dyserttoday. The first came after the intended receiver got his legs tangled with the cornerback and fell. The second came in the end zone, where he read Dysert's eyes and stepped into the lane at the right time.
- In the two-minute drill, Osweiler showed excellent awareness, identifying a blitz from
David Brutonand throwing immediately to Jacob Tammein the seam behind Bruton's blitz. The result was a huge gain, setting up a 49-yard "game-winning" field goal from Mitch Ewald. Matt Pratershowed off his power near the end of practice, lining up a 67-yard field goal attempt. The aim wasn't quite perfect, as the ball clipped the outside of the left upright and bounced wide. Still, it hit about six feet above the crossbar, a monstrous shot, even if the wind was in his favor a tad.
- For the second consecutive practice loud music was blasting throughout the day to simulate crowd noise and challenge players to focus.
- Both the offensive and defensive lines were very animated during 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, with bursts of cheers from the winning side after each rep.
- Mark Schlereth, who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos and is an NFL analyst for ESPN, was at practice.
- The defense began the day with turnover-baseddrills, with all defensive players rotated through. One station was for practicing stripping the football; another had players bat a rolling ball back into play as it was headed out of bounds for a teammate to recover; the final station was running the tip-drill.