ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Dove Valley was full of energy Tuesday with the Texans in town for the first of three joint practices with the Broncos. Though players won't don the pads until Wednesday, there were plenty of highlights in the session.
Danny Trevathan (knee), Chase Vaughn (knee), Greg Latta (hip), Gerell Robinson (knee and ankle), Jamar Chaney (hamstring), Kayvon Webster (ankle), Emmanuel Sanders (thigh) and Virgil Green (calf) did not participate.
Montee Ball returned to practice for the first time since having an appendectomy two weeks ago. He participated in individual drills only.
- Dealt the difficult task of handling J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, the offensive line performed fairly well. Ryan Clady handled Clowney with relative ease during 1-on-1 drills and kept the pair mostly away from Manning in team drills.
- Chris Clark held his own against Watt in 1-on-1s, stoning him cold on the first attempt before battling to keep him away from the center of the pocket on the second.
- Louis Vasquez handled his assignments as he usually does, without any glaring mistakes. Orlando Franklin got his hands up high a bit at times, but overall was steady. He also worked to get 15 or 20 yards downfield on a screen to C.J. Anderson, clearing the way for a big gain.
- The Broncos unit that shined brightest had to be the pass rush, led by an increasingly agile Von Miller. He won both of his 1-on-1 matchups in pass rush drills and provided pressure throughout the team periods. The Texans sent myriad blocking schemes at Miller without much success, as No. 58 found his way to Ryan Fitzpatrick with speed and power on multiple occasions.
Check out photos of the Broncos' first joint practice with the Houston Texans.
- On the other side, DeMarcus Ware was pretty terrifying as well, getting past 2012 All-Pro tackle Duane Brown a few times for "sacks" of Fitzpatrick. During the Texans' 2-minute drill specifically, Ware just missed a sack on the first play before picking one up two plays later.
- Not to be forgotten Derek Wolfe harassed Fitzpatrick throughout team periods, sacking him on his first play of the day and batting down a pass during the Texans' 2-minute drill.
- Malik Jackson flashed as well, winning both of his 1-on-1s, and Lerentee McCray and Quanterus Smith each had a likely sack late in team drills. Shaquil Barrett used a nice move in 1-on-1s, giving Texans tackle Derek Newton a strong shove to the chest before blowing past him inside.
- Andre Caldwell came up with some of the offense's best plays of the day, winning multiple times in 1-on-1 drills, including up the sideline for a long touchdown. He also grabbed a few passes for big gains in team drills, most notably a 20-plus yarder in the 2-minute drill.
- The offense capped its second attempt at the 2-minute drill with a gorgeous throw from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas, with Thomas pulling in the ball in the back of the end zone with his feet just inside the white line. The 18-yard touchdown came with just a few seconds left on the clock and the team down six points.
- Jacob Tamme was responsible for the most explosive play on offense up to that point, sneaking between the Texans' safeties on a post route and picking up huge yardage after Manning hit him in stride.
- T.J. Ward was very active throughout the day, most prominently during the Texans' 2-minute drill. A play after being called for a holding penalty, Ward leapt and, fully extended, batted away a pass intended for Texans tight end Garrett Graham and nearly corralled the ball for an interception after the tip. On the Texans' second chance in the drill, Ward broke up consecutive short passes to Graham in the end zone with the second ending up in the arms of Omar Bolden after Ward's tip. Ward was flagged for a hold on the play, however.
- Cody Latimer showed off his ball skills again, coming down with a pass that was batted and bobbled while a Texans defender tried to pull him to the ground.
- Bradley Roby looked very precise in 1-on-1 drills, rotating quickly to match receivers' breaks. One on play, he blanketed DeVier Posey so tightly that Fitzpatrick didn't even attempt the pass after seeing nowhere to put the football.
- Aqib Talib and Quinton Carter made a good play on the ball during a Texans' Hail Mary, leaping and catching the ball together before Talib pulled it into his chest as he went to the ground in the end zone.
- Longtime Broncos guard Chris Kuper was at practice Tuesday, visiting with former teammates and chatting with local media.
- Among the national media in attendance were ESPN's Sal Palantonio and The MMQB's Peter King.
- The Broncos' punt returners witnessed firsthand the power of Shane Lechler's leg. The Texans' punter boomed a few 65- to 70-yarders through the thin mile-high air during special teams periods.
- On one screen pass to Demaryius Thomas, Watt chased after the play from the line of scrimmage until the whistle blew, catching up to a juking No. 88. After the play, Watt called to Thomas, "I had you, you know I had you."
- "He won't catch me. I ain't worried about it," Thomas said afterward, laughing.