ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Dripping with sweat, Matt Paradis was beaming as he left the practice field just before midday Wednesday..
He'd only had a handful of snaps during the Broncos' sixth training-camp practice. But they were his first ones with the team since he underwent two offseason hip surgeries, and they represented a crucial step in his bid to be ready to play and resume his ironman streak of playing every regular-season snap, which dates back to the first game of the 2015 season.
"I'm feeling really good," Paradis said. "The more we progress, the more we're starting to do things. It's been going really well."
Until Wednesday, Paradis' repetitions were limited to individual periods and "mental repetitions," as he watched second-year veteran Connor McGovern work in his place from the sideline.
As he watched, the offensive line changed around him. Ron Leary started off working at left guard, then moved to right guard, with Max Garcia shifting back to the left side.
Depending on how the competition at left tackle ends, Paradis could walk up to the line of scrimmage in Week 1 bracketed by newcomers at 75 percent of the other spots on the offensive line.
The dynamic has changed -- and so has the energy.
"I also think that's something that the new guys have brought, too," Paradis said. "It's a lot easier to have that energy and set that tone when you have a bunch of guys with you. The guys we have in the room really are all about that."
- McGOVERN STAKES HIS CLAIM**
McGovern's first-team repetitions are likely to drop from here, given that Matt Paradis saw his first team-period repetitions of training camp Wednesday.
But since the start of OTAs, McGovern filled in capably for Paradis, gained experience working on the first team and built chemistry with some of the players likely to be in the starting lineup in Week 1.
That came in handy when Paradis stepped into the lineup Wednesday. McGovern shifted to right guard in place of the injured Leary and the offense didn't miss a step. When Paradis went back to the sideline, McGovern moved back to center.
In working throughout the offseason at center, McGovern made his case to be the primary swing interior backup on the offensive line.
"Now he's making the calls, he's dialed [in] on the offense," Paradis said. "He's not messing up. He's doing very well. I've been very impressed with him. Then he can step over seamlessly to guard."
- BARBRE WILL REMAIN AT LEFT GUARD**
Although Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo exchanged tackle spots -- with Stephenson moving to left tackle to share first-team work with Garett Bolles -- Head Coach Vance Joseph opted to keep status quo at the guard spots, leaving new acquisition Allen Barbre at left guard behind Max Garcia.
""He's going to stay [on the] left [side]," Joseph said. "Left guard, left tackle -- it's like corner[backs]. Their footwork and their eye placement, some guys just like playing left.
"Like Max, he likes playing left. Allen has been a left guard. You may say that's not important, but your footwork, your eye placement, your power hands and power feet -- it matters for some guys, so he's going to stay at left."
After Tuesday's break from camp, the Broncos returned to UCHealth Training Center to continue their training for the season. (photos by Gabriel Christus, unless noted)
- MORE DUSTUPS AT PRACTICE**
Two days after a fight between Sambrailo and ILB Zaire Anderson, three different scuffles broke out among the third-teamers.
Joseph did not call the team together for an in-practice gathering as he did Monday, but he reiterated his point about not wanting to see fights, given the consequences they have in game situations.
"We don't want that because the game's not played that way," Joseph said. "I understand guys are competing. We don't want cheap shots because this is our teammates. Practicing the right way and competing the right way is important to me."
Nevertheless, the intensity revealed by the exchanges is what Joseph wants to see.
"It's a physical sport, things happen," TE Virgil Green said. "If we didn't have guys that had their adrenaline running out here every day, then you really don't trust the guys in the locker room. We want to have tough guys on both sides of the ball."