ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In their final practice open to the media before Thursday's game against Dallas, the Broncos wore shoulder pads and shorts for some lively sessions. Here are the best highlights of the day.
- Perhaps the player of the day was
Quinton Carter. The fourth-year safety's long hair was flying everywhere as he made plays all over the field. His best sequence of the day came in the red zone during 11-on-11 drills. First, Carter elevated to intercept Peyton Manning, who was trying to find Julius Thomason a seam route. After helping force an incompletion on the next play, Carter flowed down the line to make a big stop of C.J. Andersonfor no gain. A play later, he picked off Zac Dyserton the goal line. The defense started the day on fire in a different red zone period, forcing the first six pass attempts of the session to fall incomplete. T.J. Ward, Carter, Aqib Talib, Kayvon Websterand David Bruton all disrupted receivers or knocked down throws, while Sione Fuabatted a pass down at the line of scrimmage.
- Julius Thomas didn't make any particularly big plays during practice but kept finding open spaces where Manning could hit him for moderate gains. He's proven to be a particularly tough cover in 1-on-1s, without linebackers' or safeties' zone coverage to help contain him.
- Another player who didn't hit the home run but racked up singles and doubles all day was
Cody Latimer, who caught passes from Manning and Brock Osweilerin a variety of drills to pick up good yardage. Rahim Mooremade a few nice plays, most notably tipping a pass away from Latimer on a deep route. Latimer had gotten behind Talib, but Moore's break on the ball forced Manning's pass incomplete.
- Some of the best plays of the day came from Dysert, who dropped a pass in
Nathan Palmer's lap for a huge gain up the sideline during 7-on-7s. The throw was just beyond a trailing Tony Carterand in front of Bruton, who was coming over from his safety position. Later, Dysert didn't let a low snap disrupt him, scooping the ball and rolling to his right before finding Bennie Fowlerin the back of the end zone for the score. Demaryius Thomasmade a few acrobatic catches on the day with Webster close in tow. He dove for a great catch in 1-on-1s through physical coverage from Webster that brought a penalty. A few plays later, he somehow corraled a back-shoulder pass from Manning for a touchdown despite great positioning from Webster. Thomas also made a one-handed snag look easy in team drills, grabbing the ball with his left mitt in stride and turning upfield. Rookie receiver Isaiah Bursealso made a handful of plays Tuesday, grabbing passes from Osweiler and Dysert in key situations. His best gain of the day came on a throw from Osweiler up the seam, as Burse split Bruton and Jerome Murphyfor a big gain. Chris Harris Jr.has had limited reps but showed he still has his feistiness. During 1-on-1s, Harris stuck tight to Emmanuel Sandersand gave the receiver little chance to catch the ball when it arrived.
- The pass rush wasn't as lethal as we've seen at times, but
Von Millerstill made his presence felt. Two plays after, just missing a screen pass to Julius Thomas, Miller sped around Chris Clarkfor an almost immediate "sack" of Manning.
- Not long after Miller's "sack,"
Lerentee McCraycame through the middle on a stunt to "sack" Osweiler. Marvin Austingot to Osweiler as well during red zone drills, while Webster and Ward came free on blitzes for "sacks" on consecutive plays later in team drills.
- During special teams drills, several linemen worked with counterparts on MMA-like hand drills with their helmets off. Among the pairings were
DeMarcus Wareand Chris Clark, Derek Wolfeand Louis Vasquez, and Kevin Vickersonand Orlando Franklin.
- After music was mostly nonexistent in the final joint practices with the Texans, it was frequently blaring on Tuesday.
- The starting defense usually begins team drills with some sort of animated group huddle. With Haddaway's "What is Love?" ringing from the speakers Tuesday, the unit showed off their best "Night at the Roxbury" head bobs, with Wolfe and Ware leading the way.
- Practice finished with the second-team units squaring off in a two-minute drill, with the offense needing a touchdown with one timeout and 1:35 on the clock. Osweiler moved the ball well, but faced fourth-and-1 at the 33 with 23.5 seconds left and no timeouts. After a quick running conversion and a spike, Osweiler went deep down the right sideline to Isaiah Burse for the "game-winning" touchdown. Unfortunately for the offense, multiple players likely would have sacked Osweiler before the throw had it been a game situation.