ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It can be a whole new world going from the third team to the second.
The caliber of opposition goes up. When Chad Kelly lines up against the Chicago Bears' No. 2 defense in practice this week, he will see an opposition comprised mostly of players who will still be with the team in the regular season, instead of players who will be in the practice-squad mix.
The key, then, is to focus on your own job -- not who's around and against you.
“You can’t really compare the team," he said. "I think going out there you just have to execute on the offensive side on the ball and whatever the play call is. If it’s double go, you have to hit the go route. If it’s slants, you have to make sure you hit the slant route, but you also have to know who’s out there, know your personnel and know where to get the ball.
No matter what unit a player is on, it's always best to focus on running your race. For Kelly, that has often meant extra repetitions after practice.
Monday, that was no different. He was one of the final three players on the field after practice concluded, throwing passes to wide receiver River Cracraft and tight end Jake Butt.
His teammates have noticed his work ethic.
"Chad's been working a lot," wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie told Orange and Blue 760. "He's been working hard, and I like Chad a lot. I like his confidence, I like his ego and everything like that. So he worked his way up."
... For Kelly, one positive consequence of becoming the No. 2 quarterback -- in addition to the obvious significance of moving up the depth chart -- is more chances to run the offense in game-condition situations.
During Monday's practice, Kelly got an opportunity to guide the No. 2 offense in a two-minute drill period. With one timeout, the football at the offense's 35-yard line and a 21-20 deficit, De'Angelo Henderson burst off the left side for a 17-yard gain to the defense's 48-yard line.
But after a 7-yard pass to Tim Patrick, Kelly and the offense went backward. Shaquil Barrett burst through the line twice -- once for a sack, and then two plays later for a pressure that could have been a sack in game conditions.Kelly got away a throw after the second pressure -- which came on a fourth-and-10 play from the defense's 48-yard-line -- but it was intercepted by Brendan Langley.
... Starting quarterback Case Keenum and the No. 1 offense fared better in their two-minute drill work. Keenum completed passes to Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton to move the offense to the defense's 49-yard line, then used consecutive passes to Demaryius Thomas and Sutton to get the offense to the 31-yard line, putting it within range of a Brandon McManus field-goal attempt.
... One of Kelly's best plays came during a team red-zone period when he fielded a shotgun snap that had sailed wide, picked up up, kept going and found tight end Brian Parker in the end zone for a touchdown on a third-and-goal play.
... During a move-the-ball period early in practice, Keenum guided the first-team offense from the offense's 45-yard line to the defense's 17-yard line in a seven-play march. Keenum got the drive going with a 12-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas, then got extra momentum from Royce Freeman, who picked up 14 yards on a third-and-7 run to move the offense into field-goal range.
... Paxton Lynch had some success with the third team in that same period, completing passes of 14, 8 and 8 yards to Mark Chapman, Matt LaCosse and Isaiah McKenzie to move the offense to the defense's 22-yard line.
... Inside linebacker Josey Jewell had a new number (59), but was his usual self, breaking up a Kelly-to-LaCosse attempt during the seven-on-seven period. Zaire Anderson and Brandon Marshall also broke up passes during seven-on-seven work.
... Tight end Jeff Heuerman returned to practice after missing time because of knee soreness and caught a touchdown pass from Case Keenum during a red-zone period.
“I honestly felt really good out there today," Heueruman said, noting that the soreness was in the same knee that he injured in 2015. "It was kind of my first time back, first time [with] some live reps and stuff. "
... With Ron Leary sidelined, Max Garcia took the first-team repetitions at left guard.
"I’ve been proud of Max, how he’s played the entire training camp," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "You need seven guys to play the season, so I’ve been proud of Max how he’s played left and right guard for us, and he’s obviously a starting-caliber player."
Photos from a Tuesday practice marked by new players' first days of work with the team and intense red-zone sessions.