ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the first six days of practice, the offense seemed to be out of sync.
Sometimes, a frenetic pass rush discombobulated the offense. At others -- particularly in Monday's practice -- the wounds were self-inflicted; that session was marred by drops and bad routes.
Thursday's practice was not perfect for the offense. But with an emphasis on controlled, short-to-intermediate passes to running backs and tight ends and quick slants to the wide receivers, the offense finally got into a rhythm it rarely located during the first week of training camp.
At one point, Flacco targeted running backs or tight ends on five consecutive plays. That paid dividends.
"We eliminated some of the drops we were having the other day," tight end Austin Fort said. "[We're] just being crisp, man. Getting in and out of the huddle, getting lined up and kind of knowing where we're going, taking those mental errors out of it was probably the biggest thing."
The offense was also resilient. One example came during a period that saw a bad snap and a dropped Joe Flacco attempt to Brendan Langley.
Facing third-and-8 at its 38-yard line, Flacco fired a perfect strike to Courtland Sutton for a 17-yard gain. Flacco began his throwing motion a split-second before Sutton cut toward the sideline, and the pass arrived in perfect time to move the chains.
Flacco and Fort also collaborated on a 50-yard touchdown that saw Flacco execute a perfect play-action fake before hitting Fort, who had worked past Josey Jewell 17 yards downfield outside the left numbers. Fort rambled the rest of the way for the score.
"I think we're getting better technically, too," Fort said.
Another area that saw the offense flourish was in the red zone, both in seven-on-seven and team periods.
The No. 2 offense fared well in a red-zone period late in practice, with touchdowns on back-to-back snaps. On the first, from the 15-yard line, Hogan dumped off to Fort in the right flat, and he navigated through the defense, using a downfield block from offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson on cornerback De'Vante Bausby to reach the goal line.
On the next play, Hogan hit rookie wide receiver Trinity Benson on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score.
"I thought we did a great job," tight end Troy Fumagalli said. "There's a lot of different scenarios today, and I thought we did a good job executing. The red zone was better, things like that. It's stuff that takes time, but we're headed in the right direction."
SOME LINGERING ISSUES ...
One problem remains the prevalence of pre-snap penalties. Once again, the offense was called for multiple false starts during a practice.
As the Broncos count down to their preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons next Thursday, Fumagalli said he wants to see the offense become "more consistent." From his perspective, that means cutting down the self-inflicted errors.
"Too many pre-snap penalties still, so we'd like to clean that up, and just be crisp," Fumagalli said. "I think [for] the first [preseason game], let's all get on the same page and be crisp."
Another issue is errant snaps, which becomes a glaring problem in the shotgun formation. The Broncos had a pair of bad snaps Thursday.
“I’ve noticed it. There are too many right now and obviously that’s something that’s got to get cleaned up," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "Years ago when the NFL teams first went to shotgun, I always used to say there’s going to be eight to 10 bad plays a year on offense just because of that. What’s happened is there is not that many because the kids are playing high school football in the gun. Their colleges are playing it in the gun. They’re more ready for it, but it still can be a problem.
"Some of those we’ve had [during training camp] have been the quarterback’s fault. [The] ball is right there and they’re taking their eyes off it too quick and they’re not catching it. This hasn’t all been the center’s fault, but you’re right. It’s the most basic fundamental there is. If we can’t get that, it doesn’t matter what play we called, so that obviously that has to get perfect soon."
... Right guard Leary continues to see his workload increase, although he is not yet up to speed to take all of the team-period repetitions in a practice as he completes his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon. Veteran Jake Brendel worked at right guard late in practice Thursday.
"I'm almost there. I mean, I'm not 100 percent yet, but it's getting there," Leary said. "It's all a process. Three hundred pounds, coming back from an Achilles [tear], it's a day-to-day thing, too."
Leary said that he has the Week 1 game against Oakland as his target for being back to 100 percent.
... Quarterback Brett Rypien saw some work with the No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense for the second time so far at training camp. But his most impressive throw came later, when he hit wide receiver Tim Patrick in stride down the left sideline for a 45-yard gain in a seven-on-seven period, drawing one of the loudest ovations of the morning.
... Zach Kerr continued the trend of defensive linemen batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, tipping a Rypien attempt to Trinity Benson at the line of scrimmage during the first team period of practice.
... Cornerback Horace Richardson intercepted a Hogan pass during the seven-on-seven red-zone period, picking off an end-zone attempt to Noah Fant.
... Trey Johnson provided the second interception of the day, picking off a Drew Lock pass intended for Steven Dunbar Jr. near the end of practice.
Take a look inside the seventh day of practice from Broncos training camp, which featured a back-and-forth battle between the offense and defense.