ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Garett Bolles has earned the starting job at left tackle -- but he doesn't yet have a vice grip on the job for Week 1.
"Until it's official in Week 1, then that doesn't faze me," Bolles said.
Nevertheless, the No. 20 overall pick in the draft wouldn't have the spot without showing signs of why the Broncos made him the first offensive lineman taken in this year's draft class.
"We've watched the spring. We watched the first two weeks of training camp, and he's played well," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "In my opinion, he's earned a right to start the game.
"That being said, we're still competing there with Donald [Stephenson] and Ty [Sambrailo], but he's played well enough to start the game there on Thursday."
If Bolles starts Week 1, he will become the Broncos' fourth different season-opening left tackle in as many seasons. The recently retired Ryan Clady started every season opener for seven consecutive seasons from 2008-14.
They hope Bolles stops the revolving door at the position.
- SPECIAL TEAMS AND THE BATTLE FOR NO. 3 RECEIVER**
For Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer, their case to be the Broncos' No. 3 and No. 4 receivers could rest as much on what they do on special teams as their abilities on offense.
Fowler had a 23-yard catch-and-run during the Saturday scrimmage; it was the only first down the No. 1 offense mustered during that day's work. Latimer has made a handful of plays throughout training camp.
But the Broncos need leaders and contributors on special teams. Both of their 2016 captains, Dekoda Watson and Kayvon Webster, left in free agency. Latimer and Fowler are potential solutions.
"That's a huge deal to have two receivers, with Latimer and Fowler, as dominant special-teams players," Joseph said. "That's rare."
Latimer's career has been frustrating to this point. Although he has been a solid special teamer, he has just 16 career receptions -- far below the total that would have been expected for a second-round pick after three seasons. The development of Fowler and Jordan Taylor and the draft additions of rookies Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson only exacerbated the challenge Latimer faced going into this camp.
So far, Latimer has "responded positively," Joseph said.
"He's worked hard as a gunner first of all," Joseph said. "He can be an All-Pro gunner. He's so big and fast.
"As a third receiver, he's competing. Again, if we're in three receivers, who's the starter? If we're in four receiver sets, which we are going to be, who's the starter? We're going to have a five-receiver set, who's the starter? Those guys all have their role and who plays where, that'll happen in the future."
- JOSEPH: 'NO' ONE'S AHEAD AT QB**
The question will be asked and will continue to be asked in every possible manner until a decision has been made.
The question, of course, is about the Broncos' quarterback situation. As long as the competition between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian continues, it will continue to be posed in various ways to Joseph.
Monday, he was asked if the decision to start Siemian on Thursday in Chicago meant that the third-year veteran had a slight lead on Lynch.
His answer couldn't have been more clear -- or offered with more emphasis through repetition.
"No," Joseph said, repeating the word 13 more times before he elaborated on where Siemian stands (link to story on who's starting).
3. PRACTICE ROUTINE CHANGES TUESDAY
With the preseason opener looming Thursday, Joseph will tweak Tuesday's practice. The No. 1 offense will go against a "scout team" simulating the Chicago defense, the No. 1 defense will face a unit simulating the Bears' offense, and so on.
"It changes the scripts," Joseph said.
A forecast for mostly sunny skies should bring the Broncos back outside in front of fans for the session after their work inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
The Broncos moved indoors Monday because of weather, but the practice was just as intense as any other. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)