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Broncos training camp Day 4 observations

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At some point this season, the Broncos' defensive hopes might rest on whether one of their young cornerbacks can step forward and handle the rigors of every-down work.

If that time comes, rookie Isaac Yiadom might be ready for his close-up.

Yiadom saw first-team sub-package work Tuesday in place of the injured Tramaine Brock, who is expected to miss approximately one week because of a hamstring injury, and the third-round pick had another solid day, nearly intercepting a pass while providing tight coverage throughout the practice.

"He's picking up all the coverages. He's doing a good job competing," cornerback Bradley Roby said. "He's forcing a lot of incompletions. He surprised me because he's another guy that I didn't know that much about. He's a good young guy [with] good character."

More opportunities are likely to come Yiadom's way, and if he's ready for them, the Broncos could have at least one answer to the questions regarding depth at cornerback.


... The practice ended with a move-the-ball red-zone period in which the offense was given one minute, seven seconds of time on the clock, possession of the ball at its 46-yard line and one timeout with a 26-21 deficit.

In the duel of first units, the result depended on your perspective. Courtland Sutton ended the nine-play drive with an 18-yard reception from Case Keenum that saw him get his feet in-bounds, but the the official in the area tossed his hat down at the end line, an indication that the receiver stepped out of bounds before making the grab.

Whether it stood or not, it was an outstanding effort from Sutton on a drive that saw the offense succeed on high-leverage downs.

Keenum completed an 6-yard pass to Devontae Booker, a 16-yard strike to Emmanuel Sanders, a 6-yard toss to Sutton and an 8-yard pass to River Cracraft near the sideline to move the offense to the defense's 18-yard line. Keenum also completed his first two third-down passes for 24 yards; whether he went 3-for-3 depended on your interpretation of the end-zone call.

... The defense won the battle of second teams to close practice. Quarterback Paxton Lynch completed a pair of passes to Isaiah McKenzie and John Diarse to start the drive, but then the march stalled under pressure from the defense. Defensive end Clinton McDonald forced an incompletion with pressure that led to a throwaway, and outside linebacker Stansly Maponga helped flush Lynch outside the pocket on third-and-9.

Lynch managed to scramble for 8 yards, but a fourth-and-1 attempt to McKenzie, who was covered by cornerback Michael Hunter, fell incomplete to end the threat at the defense's 33-yard line.

... During those move-the-ball periods, each side has plenty of motivation -- even if it's as simple as getting off the field at the end of a rigorous two-hour practice.

"The [earlier] you get them off the field, the more rest you get," defensive end DeMarcus Walker explained. "Do you want to go all the way up and down the field and breathe hard, or do you want to hurry up and get them off the field?"

... The first day of full pads also saw the first nine-on-seven work of training camp. One of the standout players of that period was sixth-round pick Keishawn Bierria, who shot forward on a pair of plays with the third-team defense, allowing him to help stuff Freeman and Williams at the line of scrimmage.

... Second-year defensive end DeMarcus Walker made multiple plays Tuesday. In the nine-on-seven period, he teamed up with Joe Jones to burst into the backfield, cutting off Phillip Lindsay's path. He was particularly disruptive against Lynch, flushing him out of the pocket and forcing incompletions -- or plays that ended without a throw or scramble entirely -- on three occasions.

... Running back De'Angelo Henderson had one of the best runs of the nine-on-seven period, taking a handoff from Keenum and bouncing to to the right side for what would have been at least a 15-yard gain in game conditions.

... Rookies Royce Freeman and Dave Williams continued to stand out. Williams showed outstanding balance and agility as he knifed through the defense for a 15-yard run in the red zone. Both took advantage of the heavier-contact nature of a full-pad practice by accumulating yardage after contact by keeping their legs pumping. This allowed them to sustain some momentum as they drove into and through multiple defenders.

... Lindsay showed plenty of toughness running between the tackles, and also made a Lynch-to-Tim Patrick completion possible by successfully picking up a blitz from Jamal Carter.

... Safety Will Parks was aggressive in the pass rush, finishing with three quarterback pressures, any of which might have resulted in sacks under game conditions.

... Tight end Jake Butt continued his standout red-zone work right from the start, catching an 18-yard pass down the seam from Keenum on the second play of the first team period.

... Rookie tight end Troy Fumagalli, who is being brought back gradually after missing offseason work with a sports hernia, had his biggest play of training camp so far, grabbing a 45-yard pass from Lynch down the left sideline during the seven-on-seven period.

"He's behind the eight-ball as far as physical conditioning. He has to get in football shape and build his body to push through NFL practices. That's where he's at now," Joseph said. "Troy is a hard worker and he's a good football player, so I assume he'll get there."

... Inside linebacker Todd Davis and Ron Leary got into a brief scuffle during a team period, but nothing came of the exchange between the two locker-room neighbors.

"I've been talking trash to Todd since the spring," Leary said, laughing. "I wasn't practicing, so all I could do was talk then. It was good to get back out there. We've been having some good collisions, but it's all love."

... Safety Trey Marshall recorded the only interception of the day, picking off Chad Kelly during the seven-on-seven period.

... The performance of the offense continued to impress defensive stalwarts like Davis.

"They're throwing a million different things at us, and they're physical," he told Orange and Blue 760. "They're way more physical this year than they were last year. I'm really excited with how the offensive line and running backs are playing. I think it's going to be a great year for our offense."


... Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall was back after dealing with a sore wrist Monday, but was limited to individual and seven-on-seven work. Joe Jones took his place on the first team during team periods.

... Phillip Lindsay, Brendan Langley, McKenzie and DaeSean Hamilton handled kickoff returns during one of the special-teams periods. Lindsay muffed his first opportunity but fielded his second kickoff cleanly, with the others all successfully reeling in the kickoffs. 

... Garett Bolles returned to practice and handled first-team work at left tackle.


... A brilliant, blue-skied Colorado morning greeted the Broncos, with temperatures rising from 68°F to 79°F during the practice ... The attendance was 3,607.

The fourth day of training camp heated up quickly, as the Broncos put on pads for their most physical practice yet.

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