ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Wide receiver Tim Patrick received a stamp of validation when Tuesday's depth-chart release saw him listed on the third team as the No. 5 wide receiver behind recent Pro Bowlers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and rising rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.
But all the depth chart did was confirm what was obvious to the eyes of anyone watching him play over the last 12 days -- including his teammates.
“Baller," safety Will Parks said. "He’s been making plays since we first started practice. I’m glad to see him out here and make a couple of plays and make everybody better."
A practice-squad player last year, Patrick has made an impression by using his 6-foot-4 frame and 33-and-5/8-inch arms to their maximum potential, repeatedly making catches over defensive backs and despite tight coverage.
For many defensive backs, Patrick is nearly impossible to defend when he can break back on the ball and out-leap defenders, as he did in catching a 37-yard touchdown pass from Paxton Lynch on Wednesday despite double coverage down the left sideline.
The ability to post up and outjump a smaller defender is the ace in the hole for big receivers like Patrick, Thomas and Sutton.
"When the ball is high, [defensive backs] have no chance," Patrick said. "We have long arms, so they can't fight through us. Literally, you have to get lucky sometimes."
Luck did not favor defenders when Lynch located Patrick on Wednesday. The two connected four times, including that touchdown and another 25-yard catch down the left sideline during the seven-on-seven period that saw Patrick make a perfect adjustment on the football to make the grab despite tight coverage.
Patrick and Lynch worked together on the scout team last year before Lynch was named the starter prior to the Week 12 game at Oakland, allowing them to hone their timing.
"I got to work with every single one of those quarterbacks [on the 2017 roster]. Me and Paxton just had that chemistry," Patrick said. "It's not something that we really worked on. You just have chemistry with some guys, and that's how it happened."
If Patrick sticks on the 53-man roster, the most important chemistry could be what he builds with Case Keenum. For that, the occasional first-team repetitions Patrick earned throughout camp to date could be crucial. But the benefits of first-team work go beyond timing with Keenum.
"It's going against the first-team defense -- Chris Harris [Jr.], [Bradley] Roby, Justin Simmons," Patrick said. "Getting the chance to go against those guys is way bigger than going with the first-team offense."
... Patrick's ability to use his size evokes images of Thomas, whose guidance has helped him flourish.
"Ever since last year, D.T. has been helping me," Patrick said. "Being another big receiver, running routes, confidence, hands -- he's been the biggest part of my success, I'm not going to lie to you."
... Roby allowed the first-team defense to win its move-the-ball period midway through practice against the No. 1 offense, intercepting a Keenum pass in the right flat on fourth-and-5.
Keenum had driven the offense into scoring range after starting from the defense's 45-yard line, using a 12-yard pass to Jake Butt to move to the 31-yard line.
... Despite the interception, Keenum worked adeptly under pressure for most of the practice, just as he has during previous days.
"As a defense, you're waiting for the quarterback to make the mistake, so you can just pounce on it, but nine times out of 10, Case is just doing an amazing job making the right reads, doing the job that he's asked to do," Justin Simmons explained.
"And on top of that, when he does make a quote-unquote 'bad read' or he throws the ball, the ball is placed so perfectly that it's like it's a great read."
... The No. 2 defense cranked up the pressure against the second-team offense, with C.J. Smith and Dymonte Thomas bursting forward on consecutive plays for what could have been sacks under game conditions.
... Phillip Lindsay had the longest run of the day, galloping off the left side for what would have been a gain of at least 30 yards under game conditions.
... The defense won all three series in the "four-minute offense" period, in which the offense is given a two-point lead with 3:30 remaining, with the defense given one timeout. A three-and-out or a takeaway is defined as a defensive win in this scenario.
In the battle of first units, Simmons stopped Royce Freeman for a 4-yard gain on third-and-5, forcing a punt that would have happened at the two-minute warning.
Dymonte Thomas forced a stop in the duel of No. 2 teams, breaking up a pass from Lynch on third-and-4.
The No. 3 offense came within an eyelash of winning its matchup against the third-team defense, but John Diarse could not haul in a pass from Chad Kelly down the right sideline. Running back Dave Williams picked up a blitz from Keishawn Bierria to give Kelly time, but it was for naught.
... Kicker Brandon McManus went 11-of-12 during a field-goal period late in practice, with attempts ranging from 23 to 61 yards. His only miss came from 56 yards.
... Joseph gave veteran rest days to a slew of key players, including Harris, Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, outside linebacker Von Miller, safety Darian Stewart and defensive end Derek Wolfe. Those changes allowed several young players to see extensive first-team work, including Sutton, Hamilton, cornerback Isaac Yiadom and safeties Will Parks and Jamal Carter.
... Cornerback Tramaine Brock returned to practice after sitting out eight days because of a hamstring injury. He will be eased back into work.
... Wide receiver Philly Brown saw team and seven-on-seven work, catching a 7-yard pass near the left sideline from Lynch during the practice. Brown missed last week because of a concussion.
... The temperature dropped for a while during practice, falling from 63°F to 61°F under cloudy skies with steady winds of 15-to-18-miles-per-hour that gusted to 32. But the skies cleared and the wind died down late in the session, helping the temperature rise to 67°F by the time practice concluded.