See the best shots from an energetic practice between the Texans and Broncos, the only padded practice of the week.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning!(/team/roster/peyton-manning/5e49338e-cd44-4226-9451-f111c0eb767d/ "Peyton Manning") did not hide his thoughts after the first day of joint practice, saying "I thought our offense stunk today."
The message, delivered before the press at the podium just off the field, was short and to the point.
After an impressive offensive showing against the 49ers in Sunday's preseason game, Manning pointedly emphasized that their work is not yet done. And with the weight of 17 years of NFL experience in his words, he's worth listening to.
"Whatever he says, we've got to listen to him because he's been in the situation plenty of times and he understands how the game goes," running back Montee Ball said.
The Broncos must have taken the message to heart because their offense certainly delivered more consistently Wednesday.
Their first team red zone drills went smoothly, beginning with a fade route to Julius Thomas for a touchdown just a couple plays into the drills. In quick succession, the Broncos struck again. This time Manning found Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route wide open, letting Thomas take a gentle gait into the endzone.
"I'm sure a lot of our guys noticed that [Manning] wasn't happy on the field," Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said. "We made sure that we came out here and had a better day."
The rest of the practice went swimmingly. Demaryius Thomas made a habit of carving broad swaths of space between him and defenders, which led to substantial gains, especially on both crossing and out routes. Later on, Brock Osweiler connected with Greg Wilson for an estimated 40-yard bomb on a fly route to the left corner for a touchdown.
But it wasn't a perfect turnaround. With defensive lineman J.J Watt and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney squaring up on the other side of the line, pressure was bound to happen eventually. Texans linebacker Brooks Reed maneuvered into the pocket during one play, knocking the ball out of Manning's hands. And the offense's day ended in unfortunate fashion during the two-minute drill as Texans safety D.J. Swearinger picked off Manning's pass intended for Julius Thomas in the seam.
"We struggled yesterday, and I think today with pads on we were a little better, but still when you see [Watt] flashing in there every once in a while and you are just hoping he doesn't get a piece of it," Gase said of Houston's defensive front. "We were better today than yesterday,and hopefully when we get to the game Saturday, we will play better."
Manning's stark comments drew attention after the first day, but the team recovered afterward and made necessary changes.
After practice Tuesday, they took a look at what happened during practice, adjusted and regrouped, and Gase said they came to an understanding on what changes had to be made. "We still have some errors, but we're headed in the right direction," he added.