ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the repetitions and days passed early in training camp, the challenge that befell the Broncos' first-team defense continued to increase. A unit that prides itself on takeaways wasn't finding any, at least not whenever Case Keenum dropped back to throw. In the first five practices, Keenum was never picked off.
With Keenum at the helm, the offense is different, and no one understood that more than a defense whose task is more difficult than it had been in the last two years.
That sort of discomfort is not easy to handle. But it's also something to embrace.
"[Defensive Coordinator] Joe Woods told us at OTAs, 'If this guy is comfortable being here, make his [posterior] uncomfortable,'" safety Will Parks said. "And that's how we've got to approach it."
For the last three years, the defense made the offense uncomfortable. Now, the tables are turned.
"It's them coming out here and making us uncomfortable," he said. "We've got a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball. It ain't like you're just going out there and sticking the average-Joe person [who comes up] to the line of scrimmage.
"The running backs we've got are pretty good. The receivers we've got are pretty good. That tight-end room is getting pretty challenging. They're running good routes, crisp routes, and there are a lot of guys there that are making [us on defense] uncomfortable."
The defense is embracing the task. But its swagger of recent years remains.
And when Parks got that first pick by stepping in front of a Keenum pass and returning it for a touchdown Friday, he and the defense could dance and celebrate a job well-done against a stern challenge.
"That's what you want as a defense," Parks said. "You want to be uncomfortable at practice."
... There are two sides to every play, and for Keenum and the offense, the interception was a teachable moment.
The scenario -- a 15-13 deficit in the final moments of the second quarter -- didn't call for a high-risk pass if it was unnecessary.
"It was a two-minute drill and it was really before half[time]," Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "It wasn’t to win the game. My thoughts to Case were to just be smart. We want points, but having points there is not urgent, right? It’s halftime."
Joseph cited the example of Janoris Jenkins' pick-six off of Trevor Siemian in the Broncos' loss to the New York Giants last year to illuminate his point.
"I brought him back to our Giants game last year. It’s a one-score game, we throw a pick before half and that game is over. That hit my head right away, the Giants game last year. It was the exact play, the exact same side of the field, a left throw, the left corner picked it and took it home.
"Just knowing situational football, having points there is not important. We want points, but it’s not urgent. So, be smart with the football."
... Parks' interception came one play after Todd Davis got to running back Devontae Booker in the left flat on first-and-20, holding him to no gain. The offense faced long yardage because of a holding penalty called on first-and-10 from its 35-yard line.
... In the same move-the-ball period, Lynch guided the second-team offense to a first down on a 12-yard pass to Tim Patrick, but the drive subsequently stalled as pressure from Bradley Chubb and Clinton McDonald led to an incompletion and a sack, respectively.
... Lynch found success in another move-the-ball period, guiding the No. 2 offense from the defense's 47-yard line down to the 2-yard line on six plays before the drive was called off to get the third teams on the field.
Most of the momentum came from one of Lynch's best touch passes of camp, which saw him roll right off of a play-action fake. Chubb didn't bite on the fake and pursued Lynch as he moved to his right. As Chubb closed in on Lynch, he lofted a pass over the first-round pick to Patrick for a 14-yard gain.
Lynch drew the defense offside twice on the possession, and picked up another 13 yards on a pass to DaeSean Hamilton down the middle.
... Two of the standout runs during the nine-on-seven period came from rookies Dave Williams and Royce Freeman, both of whom had long gains set up by sharp cutbacks before they advanced to the hole.
... The practice was generally intense, and the defense had its big moment, but defensive end Clinton McDonald wants to see a bit more as the preseason opener draws near.
"'The energy running to the ball was there," McDonald said. "I feel like we need to be a little bit more physical. We need to get our fits down pat. We've got a game in [just over] a week now, so we're closing in on the time frame where we really need to hone in on the things that we don't want to get exposed on during the game."
CATCH OF THE DAY
Yes, Courtland Sutton did it again.
The rookie wide receiver electrified the fans with a one-handed, 46-yard catch down the left sideline despite contact from cornerback Brendan Langley, who was whistled for pass interference.
"I don’t think it’s a lucky thing," wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. "Like I said [on the] first day, just seeing him run around, he’s smooth, he’s explosive and he’s coachable. That’s one of the main things that he gets better and better every day with. That’s big for the team and that’s big for him.”
... Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall saw some team-period work Friday after being limited to individual and seven-on-seven work earlier this week because of a wrist injury.
... Cornerbacks Isaac Yiadom and Langley continued to see first-team sub-package work while Tramaine Brock continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
... 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.
... Cloudy skies blanketed UCHealth Training Center, and temperatures hovered between 75°F and 78°F ... The attendance was 5,478, the highest of camp so far.