ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Even though the lockout ended earlier this week, there was still something missing amongst reports of signings, trades, player appearances and meetings.
Football. Until today.
This morning, the Denver Broncos stepped onto the practice field for the first time. There was nothing new in the team's attire -- the quarterbacks wore the alternate orange jerseys, the defense donned the away white and the offense sported the home blue -- but just the sight of those colors gave the players and the fans packed on the sideline, a thrill.
"It was exciting," quarterback
With Organized Team Activities and minicamps eliminated due to the lockout, this was the first time the team stepped onto the field as a whole unit since its last game on January 2. Since the coaches couldn't monitor and develop the players' fitness, Head Coach John Fox set an intense tone right from the start.
"You can definitely feel a difference," running back
It was the first practice Fox ran with the Broncos, and the players clearly noticed a difference in the way practice was run with the new coaching staff in place.
"I'll tell you what, just playing for coaches that are real enthusiastic about having a lot of energy. It was just a different atmosphere so a lot of guys had fun," Mays said. "I think the energy level from the coaches is what makes it different. They're happy to be out here and we're happy to be out here too as players."
The players weren't the only happy group as Fox was delighted to be back out in the sun with the grass beneath his feet and players working up a sweat.
"As I told our team last night, I spent the last six months doing a desk job -- no offense to anyone who is standing here or anywhere else," Fox said. "I have passion for coaching, and it's kind of nice to get back to that."
With the first preseason game exactly two weeks away, it's going to be a steep learning curve for players and coaches to get on the same page. And with two-a-days essentially eliminated in the new collective bargaining agreement, it just makes practices all the more important to focus on improvement, and the players could feel that process already happening.
"I thought we went out and practiced well to be honest with you," quarterback