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Broncos Training Camp Day 7 Takeaways: Getting set for the Saturday practice


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **There's a reason why Head Coach Vance Joseph keeps throwing around the word "scrimmage" to describe Saturday's work: He wants to separate it from he rest of the practices to extract something more from his players.

"When you say 'scrimmage,' it should tweak a player to say, 'My best is needed,'" he said. "So that's why you say 'scrimmage' for these guys, so you can get their best."

Think of it, perhaps, as a mid-term examination. The practice comes at a rough midpoint of the summer practice work, with games and joint practices with the 49ers set to break up the routine over the weeks that follow. Joseph said that it also offers a chance to reset and reassess things, just as he did on the off day Tuesday.

"That's going to be a big deal for our roster, as far as who's doing things the right way, who's making plays, who's making less errors, absolutely that's going to be a big part of what we're doing," he said.



When Saturday comes, Joseph plans to devote approximately 36 to 40 plays to the scrimmage portion of the practice, with roughly 12 plays for the first, second and third teams. The No. 1 offense will face the first-team defense, the No. 2 defense will face the second-team defense, and so on.

Quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will split first- and second-team repetitions, Joseph said.

"That's the plan, to kind of give those guys six and six [repetitions] with both groups," Joseph said. "You want both of those guys to play with the ones and the twos."

Joseph also wanted to cycle through his veterans' off days now so that he could be at full strength for Saturday's practice.

"Everyone's up for the scrimmage on Saturday," he said after concluding a Thursday practice that saw WR Demaryius Thomas, NT Domata Peko, CB Aqib Talib, TE Virgil Green and S T.J. Ward receive a rest day. Another handful of key veterans will get Friday's session off.



Joseph quickly shot down a question about "a narrative" that he had already told Lynch and Siemian his decision as to who would be the starter in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

"No. That has not happened, guys," he said. "It is an open competition, still. No one has been told they are the starter. We are still evaluating these guys. Again, it's been a grind of a week on both sides of the ball.

"We're going to play our game next Thursday and go from there as to who's going to be the guy. But no one has been told that."



DeMarcus Walker's transition to seeing work as a stand-up outside linebacker has only begun, but he showed his potential on the first play the second-team defense had in the initial team period of practice when he burst off the edge and blew up a Lynch handoff to Jamaal Charles for what would have been a 2-yard loss under game conditions.

Walker's quickness and ability to read plays as they developed helped him post 37 tackles for loss in his last two seasons at Florida State. In his first few days working from the edge, he has shown signs that those attributes will be as evident on the outside as they were on the inside.

"He's got to continue to work and kind of figure out how to stand up and play in space. That's the biggest issue going from defensive end to outside linebacker," Joseph said.

Joseph said that when the Broncos drafted Walker in April, they saw him handling a hybrid role, so an array of responsibilities that includes inside and outside alignments all around the front seven of the Broncos' 3-4 has not been out of the question from the beginning.

"We drafted him with that vision: kind of as a defensive end/inside third-down rusher, maybe standing up from time to time," Joseph said. "Obviously it happened faster than we thought, but that was our vision when we drafted DeMarcus."

Even with edge responsibilities, Joseph said the Broncos do not want him to drop weight from his 280-pound frame.

"We don't want him so small to where we can't put him inside in sub [packages]," Joseph said. "We want him to get leaner, but as far as smaller, no."



Wide receiver Carlos Henderson had two of his biggest plays of training camp so far on Thursday. On the first, he broke back outside to adjust to a Paxton Lynch pass in flight, getting separation from Brendan Langley for a reception that pushed the offense into field-goal range during a move-the-ball period.

Later in practice, he broke open past coverage up the left sideline. No. 3 quarterback Kyle Sloter found him, and Henderson grabbed the pass and strode the final 20 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

The skittish play of Henderson's first few days has been replaced by confidence and at least one big play from each practice since Sunday.

"He's finally getting in NFL shape," Joseph said. "He wasn't in great shape in the spring and early on in training camp, but you can finally see the guy getting in great shape. He's figured out what to do."

On a brisk, windy morning, the Broncos brought their best as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to camp for practice and a fan forum afterward. (photos by Gabriel Christus, unless noted)

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