ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The play of quarterback Case Keenum is the most visible reason why the offense has shown improved consistency and form during the first five days of training camp.
But the cohesion and progress of the offensive line can't be overlooked, either.
Since getting left guard Ron Leary and right tackle Jared Veldheer back for the start of training camp to fill out the first-team quintet, the Broncos' line has gradually begun to take on its projected form -- and has helped blast open holes for all five of their running backs.
"I like that way that first group looks when they're in there," Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said.
Leary's leadership and guidance is one of the causes of their early success -- particularly his left-side collaboration with tackle Garett Bolles. During Wednesday's practice, Leary saw evidence that their collaboration could pay long-term dividends.
"[The defense] ran a lot of twists on us today, and I think we picked every single one of them up," Leary said. "If you know O-line play, you know that's real big -- especially for two new guys playing next to each other. So that was a big step we took today."
But gaining cohesion is about more than what happens in practice and during games. Bonding away from the field is crucial to that process. Leary focused on bringing the group together for social gatherings and extra work, having seen during his seasons with the Dallas Cowboys how these activities could lead to on-field success.
"In Dallas, we were inseparable. We did everything together -- whether it was right or wrong. You know, if it was wrong, we all did it together," he said, smiling. "So that's what I'm trying to get here -- [to] just get five guys, or however many it is, guys that care for each other, that love each other, that love the game of ball and love being physical, and just want to be great, [and] put all the individual stuff aside.
"I feel like if we're good as a unit, the team will be as good as we are up front. That's why I really put a lot of emphasis on it."
... Quarterback Paxton Lynch had a strong day, punctuated by his work leading the No. 2 offense on a quick touchdown drive near the end of practice.
Lynch completed three consecutive passes to march the offense to the end zone. First, he found DaeSean Hamilton deep down the left side for a long gain that moved the football to the Denver 15-yard line. He found Matt LaCosse for a 9-yard pickup on the next snap before rolling right on second-and-1 from the 6-yard line and hitting Traylor in the end zone for the score.
... Another highlight moment came when Lynch hit wide receiver Tim Patrick down the right sideline for a lunging grab that moved the offense into the red zone.
... Wide receiver Courtland Sutton continued his strong red-zone work, catching a 5-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Keenum during a goal-to-go team period.
His consistent play-making ability has made an impression on his veteran teammates.
"All you've got to do is throw it up to him and he gets up there. He has a really good catch radius," nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. said. "He kind of reminds me a little bit of A.J. Green, where he can go up and snatch those balls."
Sutton also caught a touchdown pass from Lynch in the seven-on-seven period, as the third-year quarterback got to his second read before finding Sutton.
... One of the highlights of the one-on-one period was provided by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who ran a crisp route to shake free of Bradley Roby just long enough to haul in a touchdown pass. Sanders turned on a dime and broke back to the pylon to secure the red-zone pass, having been unable to shake the fifth-year cornerback as he sprinted into the end zone.
... In addition to red-zone and goal-to-go work, the offense practiced moving out of the shadow of its goal posts, with first-and-10 at its own 1-yard line.
Lynch flourished in this period, as well, overcoming a false start that forced the offense into third-and-7 at its 4-yard line by finding Hamilton for an 8-yard gain.
... Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb notched a sack, bursting past Cyrus Kouandjio for a sack in a goal-to-goal situation from the 4-yard line. Von Miller and Shane Ray also forced Keenum throwaways with pressure off the edge.
... Safety Darian Stewart prevented a touchdown, breaking up a pass from Keenum to tight end Brian Parker in the back of the end zone.
... The final duel of the day went to the defense, leaving the offense doing push-ups as punishment.
The first, second and third units each lined up for one play, with the offense needing to score a touchdown. The No. 1 offense found the end zone on a Keenum-to-Devontae Booker swing pass, but the defense won in the duels of second- and third-teamers, with a Will Parks deflection of a Lynch pass sealing the win for the No. 2 defense.
... Nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. did not take part in team-period work, as he received a veteran rest day from Joseph. Zach Kerr took the bulk of the snaps in his place.
... Tight end Jake Butt did not see extensive work in practice, as Joseph opted to hold him out to maintain his health "through the long haul." With Jeff Heuerman out because of knee soreness and Troy Fumagalli still working his way back to a full workload after missing OTAs and minicamp due to a sports hernia, Traylor, LaCosse and Parker saw extensive work.
... Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall continued to be eased back into work after suffering a wrist injury two days earlier. Joe Jones filled in for him on the No. 1 defense.
... A crowd of 3,161 watched the practice, which took place under variably cloudy skies in temperatures that rose from 73°F to 77°F.
On the fifth day of training camp, we focused on following the running backs' day, in addition to catching the rest of the action around UCHealth Training Center.