ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Training camp is over, but the preseason is not, and Saturday's game in Houston will give the Broncos' mostly new coaching staff their first game-time glimpse at some key players, including QB Peyton Manning, TE Owen Daniels, OLB DeMarcus Ware and ILB Brandon Marshall.
That's where the final Takeaways from this year's training camp begin:
1. BRANDON MARSHALL READY TO ROLL.
Marshall will make his 2015 debut Saturday after three weeks of buildup throughout training camp. Even though he still feels pain in the surgically repaired foot in which he has two screws, he believes he is ready.
"It's there, but I just don't think about it honestly," Marshall said. "I do a lot of rehab, I do a lot of icing and different stuff like that, but when I'm on the field I don't think about it. I understand and think about my assignment, think about my teammates and making plays.
"If I'm focused on my foot and being cautious, I'm not going to make any plays."
The last two weeks have been enough to get him up to speed on his role in the new defensive scheme.
"I like it," he said. "At first I wasn't sure how to feel about it, but now I like it, man. I think it's a playmaking defense, man, and I'm excited. I think we're going to make a lot of plays this year."
And not just agains the run, either. In the two-minute period at the end of practice, he shot through the B-gap on a blitz. Kapri Bibbs picked him up, but Marshall still provided enough of a distraction to force a Trevor Siemian incompletion.
2. ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF ONE SIDE MAKING THE OTHER BETTER:
Beyond the physical adjustment to dealing with any lingering pain in his foot, Marshall must also adapt to facing more traffic in his attempts to fill holes. The 3-4 alignment puts him in the crosshairs of an opposing guard, which means he has to face 2013 All-Pro Louis Vasquez repeatedly in practice.
Just as edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller and three-technique defensive end Malik Jackson have helped the young offensive linemen, so has Vasquez aided Marshall's transition.
"Yeah, because now I'm in the open B-gap, so the guard has a free run on me, but going up against Lou every day, he's one of the best in the league, and the guy is so big, man, he's helping me out," Marshall said. "I go up against him every day and learn how to play it differently, because a lot of mental, as well as physical. When I have him coming at me every day, it's going to make it easier on me [in games]."
- THE IMPACT OF PEYTON MANNING'S REST DAY:**
Brock Osweiler built off his solid performance in Seattle last week and had a steady day leading the No. 1 offense. He wasn't perfect; among the passes he missed was a quick out to Demaryius Thomas in the two-minute period that would have given the offense a first down. But his recovery from mistakes is much quicker than it was even one year ago, and it came as no surprised that Osweiler promptly completed his next three passes to move the Broncos into field-goal range.
Siemian got some extended work with the second team for the first time, which meant that he led the No. 2 offense during the two-minute drill move-the-ball period. It ended without a first down against the No. 1 defense, but it was a necessary step as he continues to progress.
- GLOVE OR NO GLOVE?**
"For four years, it seems like when there's not a whole lot to talk about, we always kind of go to the glove," mused Manning on Thursday after he was told that WR Emmanuel Sanders felt that he throws harder without the glove that he has worn in recent years.
"I feel like he's just trying to get more catches or something. I feel like he's going through you to try to butter me up, maybe," Manning said, laughing.
Manning wore a glove during warmups prior to last week's win over the Seahawks, but has not been wearing one in practice. Nevertheless, don't expect the glove to ever permanently be tucked in a drawer; the nerve issues with which he's dealt since his neck injury and subsequent surgeries mean it will always be an option, when needed.
"I've been forced to wear a glove and certainly in certain elements, have to wear a glove," Manning said. "I practiced with it in the spring. I haven't worn it as much during training camp. I don't really have a real set plan one way or the other.
"I feel pretty comfortable with both. I think that's the main idea."
5. THE END OF TRAINING CAMP.
It's a big deal that fans will no longer be able to watch practice, especially when a Dove Valley-record smashing 54,313 came out for the 13 open practices, an average of 4,178 per session.
For the players and coaches, not much changes. Their daily schedule will be a bit different, but their practices next week will still be intense -- probably moreso than before, given that the San Francisco 49ers will descend upon the UCHealth Training Center for joint practices.
But it won't be as electric without the fans on hand to power the Broncos through the horse latitudes of training camp. They'll be missed.
Here are the top photos from the entire practice on the final day of training camp at UCHealth Training Center. (All photos by Eric Bakke)