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Broncos training camp Day 14 observations

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It only took two plays into the first team period of Thursday's practice for Denver's offense to set the tone it wanted during its final joint practice with the Chicago Bears.

Quarterback Case Keenum handed the ball to running back Royce Freeman, and he swept left. Left tackle Garett Bolles provided a burly escort, blocking Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan to clear Freeman's path.

Bolles kept pushing, and even as Freeman raced past, the second-year offensive lineman didn't let up, driving Trevathan to the ground at the left sideline as Freeman turned upfield.

Nearly two hours later, as Bolles reflected on practice and training camp, he smiled when the play was brought up. But it was not simply about establishing the demeanor of the day. Instead it was about establishing a standard for the regular-season games to come.

"Our whole plan is to impose our will," Bolles said. "That's what we want to do, but we also want to be smart about it and continue to work on our craft and continue to work on our technique. And if we craft that, we have everything else going for us."

That work continued for Denver's offense during the rest of that period. A moment after Bolles' block, tight end Jake Butt made sure that Keenum's pocket was clean, blocking Chicago outside linebacker Sam Acho. That gave Keenum time to locate Emmanuel Sanders down the right sideline.

Devontae Booker was a beneficiary of more strong blocking work during the same period, following the lead of fullback Andy Janovich on Trevathan for a solid gain on a sweep to the right.

"If we have two or three people doing that," Bolles said, "the rest of us will attack it, which will make Case feel comfortable, which will [help] Book and Royce and all those guys back there, and [Demaryius Thomas] and Emmanuel and Courtland and Tim Patrick and all those guys catching balls."

Plays like those were part of why Head Coach Vance Joseph felt the first-team offense and defense had "sharp" work against the Bears.

"Pretty strong," Joseph said. "It's practice. It's a controlled environment, so it was obviously a scripted practice."


... Denver's defensive line and edge rushers carried over their strong work in one-on-one drills to the team periods during practice. During a single period, outside linebackers Von Miller and Shane Ray each burst into the backfield with rushes that would have likely been sacks under game conditions.

... With the aid of a strong pass rush and consistent push up front, Denver's second-team defense stabilized after what Joseph said was a "terrible" practice Wednesday.

"Better, a lot better," he said. "Obviously, seeing the plays for the second day, their assignments were better. Still wasn't perfect, but it was better."

... Booker made one of the offense's big plays possible by picking up a Trevathan blitz, allowing Keenum to hit wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton for a 30-yard gain down the left sideline.

... Jeff Heuerman caught a pair of touchdown passes during the team red-zone period, including one that saw him run a crossing route at the goal line. As he caught the ball, Chicago linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski tried to wrest the football away from Heuerman, but the first-team tight end won the tug-of-war for the score.

... Wide receiver Tim Patrick was at the center of one of the skirmishes that took place during a special-teams period, but had a notable day on offense. During the red-zone team period, he caught a touchdown pass, leaping over Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller for a catch from Chad Kelly.Patrick also caught a pair of passes from Keenum in a seven-on-seven period.


... Connor McGovern and Max Garcia both saw some work at center with the second and third units as Sam Jones continued to sit out because of back spasms that arose during Tuesday's practice.

"The more he can do as a swing guard for us, the better he's going to be," Joseph said of Garcia.

... With Chris Harris Jr. sidelined because of an oblique injury, Tramaine Brock and Isaac Yiadom both saw first-team work at cornerback alongside Bradley Roby.

Harris will "hopefully" be ready for Saturday's game, Joseph said.

The Broncos capped their 2018 training camp with a fun, intense and thrilling day in their final day of joint practices with the Chicago Bears.

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