ENGLEWOOD, Colo, --It's been five weeks since the whole team was together at Dove Valley. Five weeks since the conclusion of minicamp, five weeks for the players and coaches to have some vacation time.
But the start of training camp Thursday morning marked the end of summer vacation. Time to get back to work.
"It was good. The guys came back ready," Head Coach John Fox said. "You put guys out there for five weeks and you aren't really sure, especially a lot of the bigger players, how they will report back. I'm very impressed with how they conducted themselves during that five-week period.
"To be honest with you, today looked like the first practice after a five-week break. But we have plenty of time to get better."
Quarterback Peyton Manning agreed that it was visible that the team had been away from football for a while, but that is to be expected.
"I think it felt like a first-day-of-training-camp practice with the almost a six-week layoff," Manning said. "I thought the defense had their way a few times. I thought the offense made a few plays, but I thought it felt like a first day, which is what it was. We'll continue to work and improve."
Training camp will last three weeks until Thursday, Aug. 15 – the day before the Broncos travel to Seattle for their second preseason game. In that time, there are a lot of individual and team goals to be met.
According to second-year defensive end Jeremy Beal, now is the time for rookies to learn how to be professionals.
"In college, you've got to worry about classes and all sorts of stuff like that," Beal said. "This is all about being a professional and handling your business. If you don't take care of your business, you're out of here. It's like that. You've got to learn how to be a professional."
For those players that aren't new to the league but new to Denver, there are other goals to be reached during training camp like getting acclimated to the team, the environment and even altitude.
Defensive back Quentin Jammer admitted that he was a little tired after the first practice of training camp and still wasn't quite used to the altitude.
Of course, everyone has the same goal of taking this time to get better.
"I think you like to try to find some things that are better every day," Manning said. "But it may be something small. It could be an individual drill. It could be a specific route. This is the time to work on things and try to expose things. Either to find out what a strength is (or) to find out maybe what a weakness is."
For the first couple of training camp sessions the players won't put their pads on and so Thursday's practice wasn't greatly dissimilar from the offseason program and minicamp. The biggest and most obvious difference was the crowd of more than 3,000 Broncos fans lining the hill at Dove Valley.
"That makes you feel good," tight end Joel Dreessen said about the fan support. "(It) gives you a little pep in your step.
"We've got a lot of work in front of us, but their support certainly means the world to us."