ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Late in Monday's practice, with the offense in a four-minute drill scenario against a defense trying to prevent a first down, penalties began to mount. Flags flew on three consecutive snaps -- two for pre-snap infractions, and one for what an official on the field signaled as a holding penalty. But after the session, Head Coach Vic Fangio revealed that the flags were not what they appeared to be.
"The last two penalties were planned by me. I told them to do that," said Fangio, who added that the reason why he called for the penalties was a "code secret."
"Some of them that looked like penalties, they were actually clean plays, the center snapped the ball before he was supposed to. They're bad plays, but they aren't penalties. But the quarterback is going to get clobbered."
While the timing on some snaps needed refinement, the accuracy of shotgun snaps, which was an issue last week, improved, but was not perfect. One team-period play saw a low Connor McGovern snap that Joe Flacco quickly recovered and threw away. There was also a mistimed under-center snap with the No. 3 offense.
Still, there has been growth, although McGovern may be one of the first-teamers who makes an appearance in Thursday's preseason opener with Atlanta.
"[McGovern] may play a little bit on Thursday, but if you noticed at the stadium practice the other day, that was his best day for that," Fangio said. "And most of the snap issues that we've had have been in the [shot]gun."
BUTT STILL SIDELINED
With few starters expected to play Thursday, the game could be a showcase for young tight ends Noah Fant, Troy Fumagalli, Austin Fort and Moral Stephens, none of whom have played a preseason snap.
Tight end Jake Butt, meanwhile, remains on the sideline as he deals with a knee injury. Bug Howard is also still out with an ankle injury.
Fangio admitted that he is "concerned" about Butt's health.
"Jake keeps having these little potholes. He starts feeling good, moves a little, does something, and then it doesn't feel so good," Fangio said. "All things that we're led to believe that are to be expected.
"The important thing is keeping his spirits and seeing where he develops and where it goes. It's unpredictable."
... The Broncos went into the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse to start the practice, as the lightning-warning alarm sounded within a half-hour of the session's start. The team returned to their outdoor fields after individual-period work.
... Running back Phillip Lindsay returned to practice after sitting out Saturday's work following a trip to the chiropractor in which "the guy overdid it," as Fangio said.
Lindsay had a solid day, punctuated by a reception from Joe Flacco that he turned into a long gain as he followed the block of Dalton Risner on Justin Hollins to move upfield.
... Second-year offensive lineman Sam Jones helped spring Devontae Jackson for a lengthy run by knocking edge rusher Jeff Holland to the ground during the first team period of the day.
... Safety Su'a Cravens had one of his best plays against the run during a team period Monday, reading a handoff from Drew Lock to Khalfani Muhammad well and moving forward to blow up the sweep in the backfield.
... Safety Justin Simmons continued his summer of picks by intercepting Brett Rypien during a team period, capitalizing off pressure from Von Miller and Bradley Chubb that forced an errant pass in the direction of Nick Williams.
... Linebacker Joe Jones punctuated his day with an interception of Lock in a seven-on-seven period. Lock scanned the field and threw to Muhammad in the left flat, but Jones read his eyes perfectly and jumped in front of the pass for what could have been a touchdown in game conditions.
However, Muhammad also got the better of Jones, turning upfield for a long catch-and-run from Flacco during a team period.
... Safety Trey Marshall prevented a touchdown during a seven-on-seven red-zone period, lunging to break up a pass from Lock to Jeff Heuerman. He also got a hand on a pass from Lock to Fumagalli to prevent a completion.
... Wide receiver Courtland Sutton made a one-handed catch of a Flacco pass that was behind him on a crossing route.
... Outside linebacker Malik Reed was active again, with multiple pressures off the edge -- including two on back-to-back plays -- and a pass defensed when he dropped into coverage on Steven Dunbar Jr., reaching out to prevent a completion from Rypien.