ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With a simple punch to the football, all the takeaway drills that Broncos coaches ask their players to complete paid off for rookie Lamin Barrow.
That forced fumble, near the goal line against tight end Virgil Green, provided the defense with a successful stop of the Brock Osweiler-led offense in a goal-to-go period during Friday's training camp practice.
It was one of the best plays in training camp for the Broncos' fifth-round pick in this year's draft. But Barrow deflected praise for the play, and wanted to share the credit with fellow linebacker Brandon Marshall, who recovered the fumble.
"Brandon made a great play getting to the point of attack with Virgil," Barrow said. He went to strip it out at the same time I went to punch it. The ball just popped out."
"Popped" is an apt word, because that describes the decisive force that Barrow has shown, particularly against the run, during recent training-camp practices. After a bit of a slow start when camp opened July 24, his improvement has become profound as he learns how to read developing plays and how best to attack them.
"Coming into camp, I was a little sluggish as far as breaking and getting to the ball," Barrow recalled. "I think I broke myself out of that and got my legs up under me."
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio has noticed.
"He's getting better every day," Del Rio said. "If you looked at the first day of practice and you looked at (Friday), you'd go 'Wow, he doesn't even look like the same guy.'
"He's progressing, and we just have to see how far we can bring him."
Check out the best photos from Day 9 of Broncos training camp practice.
Literally and figuratively, Del Rio wants Barrow to keep moving forward -- something that was an issue during organized team activities in May and June. Too much lateral movement was a bugaboo of Barrow's earlier this summer; he has corrected this in the last nine days.
"That was something that Coach Jack Del Rio stressed to me before camp started, that he didn't want me to run sideways as much s I did in OTAs," Barrow said. "He wanted me to come downhill on the run. I think I've been doing that pretty well.
"A lot of plays during OTAs against the run game, I was just being an athlete, running sideways and getting to the ball. Now I know exactly where to fit and get to the holes faster."
Barrow admits that even with the improvement, there's "still a lot of mistakes" in his game.
"I've still got to work on things as far as coverage, and in my run game I think I've improved greatly with my hands, and coming downhill and playing the run," he said.
But from practice and long days and nights at the facility, Barrow is finding solutions. He said he saw teammates arriving at Dove Valley at 6:30 a.m. each morning, so he decided he should do so, as well, trying to mimic their work ethic.
"I'm just trying to follow in their footsteps," Barrow said. "I'm learning to become a pro right now."
Given his growth in the last nine days, he's figuring it out fast.