The second week of OTAs came to a close Thursday with a spirited practice full of big plays and big smiles. (photos by Ben Swanson)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall is ready for a big year. He's set his sights on career highs across the board. He changed up his training regimen after a frustrating 2016 season in which he struggled with a hamstring problem.
All that has translated to the practice field, where he's showing signs of dominance and leadership as one of the ringleaders of the Broncos' swarming unit.
"I'm just getting my feet and my legs up under me. It feels good," Marshall said. "I did a lot of hard training this offseason. I came back and continued that, and I feel like I'm playing really well."
He showed one example of his playmaking ability on the first play of the initial team period of Thursday's practice. With the offense in the red zone, Marshall raced toward the back left corner of the end zone and broke up a potential touchdown pass to A.J. Derby.
Later in practice, Marshall's persistence and hustle led to a forced fumble. Demaryius Thomas had caught a pass from Trevor Siemian and headed downfield, but Marshall kept chasing and poked the ball out, giving the defense another takeaway.
Here's what else stood out from Thursday's organized team activity:
... Safety Justin Simmons intercepted a pass for a second consecutive day, stepping in front of a pass during a red-zone drill to prevent a touchdown.
... Trevor Siemian continued to find Cody Latimer. The two connected multiple times Thursday after doing so Wednesday, including a touchdown pass during a team red-zone period.
... Paxton Lynch saw first-team work Thursday, as Head Coach Vance Joseph continued to alternate Lynch and Siemian with the first team. Lynch showed poise under pressure operating Denver's top unit.
During one team period, the No. 1 defense dialed up a heavy pass rush on three consecutive plays. Lynch stood in the pocket and got rid of the football for completions on each of those plays, finding Emmanuel Sanders, Devontae Booker and finally Thomas as pass rushers bore down on him.
.... Rookie De'Angelo Henderson ripped off a touchdown run during the red-zone period, capitalizing off solid blocks from rookie Elijah Wilkinson and 2016 practice-squad tackle Justin Murray to get to the left side. Henderson then showed good straight-line speed, accelerating forward past defenders for the score.
... Cornerback Lorenzo Doss made an athletic play to prevent a touchdown, lunging to break up what would have been a 35-yard score from Lynch to tight end Jeff Heuerman during a team period.
... Rookie wide receiver Carlos Henderson elicited "oohs" from his teammates after making a sharp change of direction that sent a defender sliding to the ground following a reception from Siemian. Henderson was running from right to left when he caught the ball, and then stopped and cut back to his right, leaving a sprawling defender and plenty of open field to proceed with the football.
... Outside linebacker Von Miller isn't just about sacks when he rushes the passer, as he showed when he leapt and broke up a pass in the backfield during a team period late in practice.
... Late in practice, the offense and defense faced off in a "move-the-ball" scenario, with the offense starting at its 25-yard line and facing a two-point deficit. The No. 1 and No. 2 defense emerged victorious against the first- and second-team offenses, respectively, using pressure and tight coverage to prevent the offense from gaining a first down on either series.