ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time in many months, "thuds" and "pops" could be heard during the Broncos' practice at Dove Valley. The Broncos finally put the pads back on and, according to Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, this is when camp "officially" starts.
"It's always good to get the pads on," Del Rio said. "Camp has really started now. Before you put the pads on, it almost doesn't count. It was good though—a good morning and a good first day. We've got a good football team. Part of what we have to do—and Coach Fox talks about it—is be really competitive but take care of each other. I think we're working to get that balance."
While there were numerous hard hits and players on the ground, the Broncos are working to be careful and avoid injury.
"Some guys were on the ground, which we need to do a better job of staying up and keeping each other safe but I think the physicality was good for the first day and it will probably pick up a little bit tomorrow in the stadium so I'm looking forward to tomorrow," T.J. Ward said. "Guys are going to be a little sore but I think they'll be a little more comfortable because it will be the second day."
The day after the team's first practice in pads will be when they are most sore, according to Ward. He also said it takes time adjust to the weight of the pads and sometimes timing can be off when players have been practicing without the pads for so long.
"As a defensive player you've got to love to put pads on because you get to hit somebody," said linebacker Lerentee McCray. "If you dread putting the pads on then you don't need to be playing football."
Other members of the defense echoed the same sentiment.
"This is what linebackers live for, to hit somebody," Danny Trevathan said. "But at the same time we've got to be smart. It's my third year. I know how to keep it smart but also get my work done."
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware said the pads require endurance and stamina.
"You keep the jerseys on for a little bit, but that's not what football's about," Ware said. "It's about putting the pads on and really getting down into the grit, and we're starting with the pads first day today and we had a good day."