ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver's defense struck first.
As the Broncos practiced a two-minute scenario for the first time in camp, the team's stout defensive unit won the opening opportunity.
Holding a six-point lead with less than two minutes to play, the defense slammed the door shut. On a second-down play, defensive end Jonathan Harris batted a ball at the line of scrimmage and Randy Gregory snagged the ball out of the air and took it back for a clinching touchdown.
The Broncos' drive wasn't aided by a pair of pre-snap penalties that pushed Denver into a first-and-20 scenario to start the drive.
"I just finished talking about it [with the team]," Head Coach Sean Payton said. "We had too many fouls there with the officials here. Before you ever really get going, you put yourself in a hole. It's something we have to improve on."
After the second-team units took their turn at the drill, the Broncos' first-teamers returned to the field — and the offense was motivated to change the result.
"As soon as we came off the field, we knew that was unacceptable," guard Quinn Meinerz said. "That is not the kind of offense we're going to be this year, so it was just refocusing and kind of putting that last two-minute behind us but learning from it and coming out the second two-minute and executing a lot better and more efficiently.
"… All of us were on the same page on the offense of like, 'Hey, that's not what we do. That's not right.' We've got to be better than that, because two-minute offense a lot of the time is what wins and loses games. So we've got to be better in that aspect."
In the second scenario, the Broncos' offense needed just three points to tie the game in the final minutes. Starting at their own 38-yard line with 1:29 to play the Broncos' offense used a pair of passes to Courtland Sutton and a completion to Jerry Jeudy to methodically work the ball down the field. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed five total passes to set up a 52-yard field goal attempt, which Brett Maher drilled to tie the game.
The Broncos' work in the two-minute drill is just beginning, and Payton made it clear the Broncos would spend plenty of time honing their skills for that portion of the game. For the Broncos to be successful, it must be a focus.
"More than anything, it's the mechanics of getting the ball to the official, not rolling it on the ground and getting set if we have to clock it," Payton said. "There are so many other nuances: getting out of bounds, valuing the clock more than two yards gained, if that makes sense. [It's] really understanding that we want to move the ball, but the clock is important. All of that — we went through it in a walk through, and we'll keep working on it."
… Wilson started practice strong with a series of completions in seven-on-seven work, including a deep pass down the middle to Greg Dulcich. Later in practice, Wilson posted good throws in 11-on-11 work to Jeudy and running back Samaje Perine.
… Sutton and Pat Surtain II recorded one of the more entertaining reps of one-on-ones on Friday. Sutton used a burst of speed to get an early step on Surtain, but Surtain closed the gap late to record a pass breakup on a deep throw to the end zone.
… Later in practice, Surtain showed his physicality as he could have delivered a big hit near the line of scrimmage. Surtain has spoken about his increased focus on tackling since entering the league.
… Safety Kareem Jackson recorded his first interception of training camp as he expertly tracked a deep pass and undercut the throw.
… Zach Allen and Nik Bonitto were among the players to provide strong rushes during 11-on-11 action on Friday.
… Kendall Hinton caught a long pass down the middle of the field, which was one of his bigger plays of camp after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"He's got good hips," Payton said. "He's fluid. I think he can change direction pretty well. He does have some football instincts. This is an important camp for him. He's got a chance to be a slot-type receiver. He's smart."