Training camp is open and the players are taking to the practice field for the first time.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It was as it should be: the Broncos starting training camp to the warm embrace of their fans.
As it was at their current home from 2003-13 and in Greeley, Fort Collins and on 58th Street before that, the Broncos took the field to cheers and applause that were missing last year as renovations and construction continued on what is now known as the UCHealth Training Center.
The result was an impressive sight: a hillside packed with 4,025 fans, in a sight that evoked memories of the 21 years the Broncos spent in Greeley. Head Coach Gary Kubiak took part in 17 of those camps at the University of Northern Colorado as a player and a coach, so he recognized the sounds, sights and adulation.
"To me, it hasn't changed. They've been great," he said. "They were great when I was here before, and obviously when you walk out here this morning and see the support that this organization has, that this football team has, it's outstanding."
"It's great to see them. They get the players going. It's great for the coaches. I'm looking forward to them being a part of our camp."
And although it will take a few days for the intensity to truly hit at training camp, the fans were in midseason form.
TWEETS FROM THE FIELD:
- As expected, the first-team offensive line during the team period consisted of LT Ty Sambrailo, LG Ben Garland, center Gino Gradkowski, RG Louis Vasquez and RT Chris Clark. Kubiak indicated at the close of OTAs that this alignment would be used when camp began, but noted Thursday that there would be some shuffling early in training camp.
- Kubiak said that he is structuring his training-camp days differently than in his past years as head coach, with three meeting times instead of two. "I think we need refreshers on our schemes and those types of things on a consistent basis," Kubiak said. "But I think we've done a pretty good job. We've just got some issues like Demaryius, he's missed a whole offseason and obviously he's huge in our offense, so we've got to catch him up."
- QB Zac Dysert saw the bulk of the third-team work, but rookie Trevor Siemian also saw a handful of snaps.
- TE Owen Daniels had a good day blocking the run game, sealing the edge on the left and right side to spring C.J. Anderson for some good runs during the team period.
- OLB Von Miller had a disruptive day, bursting into the backfield twice during the team period for two pass rushes that would have resulted in sacks during game conditions.
- The Broncos scaled back into a walk-through tempo at the end of practice as a part of easing the players back into work on the first day. Teams are not allowed to have full-pad, full-contact practice until the third day on the field, which for the Broncos would be Sunday.
- Before the final walk-through period, the Broncos closed practice by simulating last-second field-goal attempts with the clock running, the offense running off the field and the field-goal unit sprinting onto it. Connor Barth hit his only attempt from 36 yards and Brandon McManus was 2-for-2 from the same distance.
- A calf injury to DE Malik Jackson pushed Vance Walker onto the first team during the team period.
- TE Jeff Heuerman (torn ACL) was the only player who did not practice. Heuerman cannot go onto injured reserve before the cut to 75 players; if he were placed on injured reserve before, he would be exposed to the waiver wire.
- DE Antonio Smith practiced for the first time since taking part in the voluntary veteran minicamp in April, but was limited to individual work and extra stretching with a team trainer. He missed OTAs and June minicamp to attend to a personal matter, and Kubiak expects it will be "four days to a week" until Smith is at full speed. Smith will not practice Saturday in order to attend a funeral.
- WR Demaryius Thomas practiced for the first time since the end of the 2014 season after missing offseason work because his franchise tender was unsigned. Thomas was limited to individual work, but Kubiak expects he will do "a little bit more each day."
- LBs Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan saw limited work as they continued to recover from the injuries that kept them from offseason practices. They participated in individual and seven-on-seven drills, and moved well, with quick, sharp cuts. "We're going to be smart in our approach [with them]," Kubiak said. Todd Davis and Steven Johnson continued to work on the first team in their place.
- DE Malik Jackson left practice because of a calf strain. He returned for the afternoon walk-through. "I'm confident I'll be back pretty soon," Jackson said.
- OL Connor Rains walked off the field early in practice because of a foot injury.
- OL Louis Vasquez missed the afternoon walk-through due to an illness. Shelley Smith filled in for him at right guard.
QUOTABLE:"I thought our guys came back good. That's the biggest thing you're looking at as a coach, watching them work, how they held up physically." -- Kubiak
WEATHER REPORT:Practice took place under mostly sunny skies, with temperatures rising from 75°F/23°C to 83°F/28°C by the end of the session.