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Broncos Training Camp Day 4 Takeaways: Defense steps up

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Saturday, the offense pushed down the field. Sunday, the Broncos' defense, teeming with talent and pulsating with pride, pushed back.

When throwing windows existed, they were narrow. When running lanes opened, they quickly closed.

"That's what we're trying to do," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "We're trying to drown them deep in the water every day and that's our motivation.

"We were upset with [Saturday's] performance and we wanted to come back today and show them who we are."

The defense's next goal is to string together consecutive strong days.

"These are good days and now we've got to try and stack them up," Harris said. "We don't want to come out like we did in practice yesterday, tomorrow. We want to keep stacking these days up, keeping getting better and that's the main goal."

For the offense, its task will be to rebound after Sunday's scattershot performance.

The Broncos hope that somehow, they'll get both.

Other takeaways from the day's work:

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  1. FULL PADS, FULL-SCALE FOOTBALL**

Since the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed on its collective bargaining agreement in 2011, the fourth day of training camp has always had a little extra pop in the air because it is the first day on which teams can work in full pads.

"This is when the real football starts, when you put these pads on," Harris said. "Receivers have been playing finesse football with no pads and we could barely touch them for so long."

Until this point, the coaches could gather only so much about what the team could do.

"We're going to learn a lot in the next couple of weeks in pads, the way it's supposed to be played," Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said. "Up until this point, you have a double-team block and we're a little friendly -- you're not doing certain things. Now we want to see who can move guys and stay within the rules the way you can practice."

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  1. LORENZO DOSS AND HIS KNACK FOR INTERCEPTIONS**

If you visited training camp last year, you probably saw what the UCHealth Training Center-record crowd of 6,121 witnessed Sunday: Lorenzo Doss intercepting passes.

Last year, he was the bane of the existence of Broncos quarterbacks, intercepting eight of their passes. Sunday, he rediscovered his turnover touch, grabbing a tip-drill interception of a Lynch pass that bounced off Marlon Brown and finishing the day with a pick off Siemian.

"I always tell him he's a four-leaf clover," Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods said. "For whatever reasons, when he's in the game he's always around the football."

But like many ballhawks, it can be feast or famine for Doss.

"He makes plays. Sometimes he cheats a little too much and that's what gets him in trouble," Woods said. "He had the double move over there in [a drill] and I just told him to stay top down, but it's just his natural instincts. He just has it."

The question now is whether "it" is enough for him to earn the No. 4 cornerback spot in a race that includes third-round pick Brendan Langley and veteran Chris Lewis-Harris, who joined the Broncos in June.

"The biggest thing for [Doss] is continue to improve the other areas of this game," Woods said.

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  1. THE RUN DEFENSE ALREADY LOOKS DIFFERENT**

Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall are able to consistently shoot forward to fill gaps and prevent runs from reaching the second level. The biggest reason why is because of the work being done in front of them by a defensive line that is bigger and stronger than last year.

Starting defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick are each at least 15 pounds heavier than they were last year, and are holding their ground. Free-agent pickup Domata Peko is doing what he was supposed to do at nose tackle: He is occupying multiple blockers, freeing up Davis and Marshall to attack.

"[Peko] is a big body in there, he controls his gap and he can take on double teams," Woods said. "I sit in meetings with [Defensive Line] Coach Kollar, and he's extremely smart. He's a great player to have. A great addition."

Head Coach Vance Joseph was on the Bengals' coaching staff for two seasons (2014-15) and saw Peko's impact first-hand. His role is slightly different in the Broncos' 3-4 alignment than it was in Cincinnati's 4-3 scheme, but that hasn't diminished his effectiveness.

"I knew bringing him here, being a [3-4] nose, it was less penetration, but more being stout on blocks,' Joseph said. "He's a big man, he can do it. He's very, very, very intelligent when it comes to formations and run game. He's going to help us big-time."

4. OFFENSE TESTED BY THE BEST

As frustrating as a day like Sunday was for the offense, McCoy knows that if his unit can build off it and find success, the benefits could be long-lasting -- both on a team and individual basis.

"Playing against this defense should make our offense better in the long run," McCoy said.

McCoy also sees it in Garett Bolles' one-on-one matchups against Von Miller, which echo the duels he saw in 2003, when he worked with the Carolina Panthers and first-round offensive tackle Jordan Gross faced an immediate, rigorous daily test from defensive end Julius Peppers.

"I think every day in training camp is the good and the bad," McCoy said. "There's going to be days out there where the offense does certain things. There's days out there when the defense dominates. There's days where it's kind of a balance. That's the great thing about this team."

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