ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Like a handoff from a quarterback, opportunity found itself in De'Angelo Henderson's grasp this week, and he is determined not to bobble his big chance.
With Devontae Booker injured and Jamaal Charles' repetitions being closely monitored as the Broncos look to keep the 10-year veteran fresh, the Broncos need depth. That's why they signed Stevan Ridley on Thursday.
But on Friday morning, it was Henderson, their sixth-round pick from Coastal Carolina, who saw some first-team work behind Anderson, and he showed the same explosiveness and quickness that he has displayed working with other units.
"It's a competition. We want to find the best back for our football team," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "That being said, we want to find two or three guys that can help us with the halfback position."
Everything Henderson showed at Coastal Carolina has translated to the next level. His vision, burst, ability to secure the football and quick read-and-reaction to holes as they develop are all there. He doesn't dance; he surges forward, leading to a slew of solid gains over the last two days.
He makes plays behind all lines -- from the No. 1 to the No. 3. One of his finest plays came when Elijah Wilkinson, Cedrick Lang and Cameron Hunt all fired off the snap, creating a lane through which Henderson pounced for a lengthy jaunt upfield.
"He just comes downhill, man," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "I'm excited to see what he does when he puts the pads on."
But there's plenty of other topics of note as the Broncos conclude the second day of training camp:
1. 'WAY TOO EARLY' TO GAUGE COMPETITION AT NO. 3 RECEIVER
The Broncos brought the fire to Friday morning's training camp practice at UCHealth Training Center. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)
Right now, third-year veteran Bennie Fowler III is the first player up when the Broncos go into their three-wide receiver formation, but Joseph cautioned that it was too soon to handicap the competition.
"I think Bennie has that job right now," Sanders said. "Obviously, Bennie doesn't want to lose it, but it's Bennie's job right now to lose, if you ask me. He's the one playing in the slot the majority of the time."
Fowler had 11 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns last year in sharing rotational work with a handful of other receivers, including Jordan Taylor. Taylor is making a slew of solid catches, as he has in each of the last two training camps. But Fowler's role on special teams remains more extensive than Taylor's.
The battle has only begun, and others, including Cody Latimer, Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson, will be in the mix.
"It's way too early, guys," Joseph said. "That spot is going to play itself out, obviously, in games and as camp goes along."
2. SANDERS BELIEVES PRESEASON GAMES WILL DECIDE QB RACE
Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both expressed a preference that the Broncos find their starting quarterback sooner, rather than later. But their perspective is understandable; they want to build timing with the man who'll be firing passes in their direction, and the only way to do that is with an accumulation of repetitions.
Still, Sanders is realistic. He knows a decision isn't coming today or tomorrow -- and he expects that when it does happen, it might be heavily weighted on the performance in preseason games.
"We're going to see out here on the practice field, and it's easy, but we'll see during the preseason games," Sanders said.
"That's what's going to determine the starter: Who's going to ball during the games, because practice is practice, but you've got to be able to take that to the game."
3. NO PADS, BUT STILL MORE PHYSICAL PLAY
Despite the fact that the Broncos cannot wear full pads until Sunday, these practices are still more physical and at a quicker tempo than OTAs and minicamp, something that is most evident in the one-on-one battles between the offensive linemen and defensive linemen and edge rushers.
That has allowed Joseph to get an early gauge on the physicality of his players on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"From the O-line so far, what I've been impressed with is that it's a physical group -- even without pads," he said. "Their pad level is really low. They're fighting. They're pushing the pile. So I'm impressed with those guys.
"Up front on the D-line, [Domata] Peko has been really, really stout as the nose [tackle]. [Adam] Gotsis, he's been good the last couple of days. [Zach] Kerr has done some good things and Von [Miller] has been tremendous."
4. "ATTACK MODE"? DEPENDS ON YOUR PERSPECTIVE
"We're in attack mode all the time," Joseph said, "and that's my vision for the offense: It's to attack defenses and score points. If we can do that, guys, that's going to make a difference."
It feels like the Broncos are moving at a brisk pace, but to Sanders, the offense isn't even in high gear.
"We're not even in attack mode right now. We're huddling up, we're just calling plays," Sanders said. "Mike McCoy, he's competitive. He's scheming. Right now, and that's just in practice. It's just cool, because I can just imagine during the game how he's going to be scheming. We're not even in attack mode right now. Once we're able to go no-huddle and speed up and use this altitude to our advantage, that's when we're going to be in attack mode."