ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --A severe thunderstorm that dumped over three and a half inches on the UCHealth Training Center on Monday forced the Broncos to close the west hillside for Tuesday's practice, but did not force them indoors.
Remarkable work from the Broncos' groundskeeping and operations departments and a drainage system that did its job in the wake of the severe thunderstorm allowed the Broncos to practice just 18 hours after their two fields were lake beds.
If you had walked up to the field Tuesday morning without knowledge of Monday's storm, you never would have known what happened.
"I was really surprised," said Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. "The fields were in great shape [today]. Whoever set them up and whoever did the whole deal, I mean, they drained so well. We practiced out there. Of course, yesterday looking out there I said, 'There's no way we're going to practice outside tomorrow.' It worked out well."
All that was missing was the fans. Players tried to compensate for the absence of cheering fans, and practice was lively -- but it wasn't quite the same without the fans, who the Broncos hope to welcome back Wednesday.
TWEETS FROM THE FIELD:
... Head Coach Gary Kubiak wasted no time getting the Broncos back up to full-speed work, with periods of no-huddle work and a special-teams emphasis on field goals and punt returns. "We're really covering a lot of bases. You saw we did everything in the book today," Kubiak said. "You name it; we did it."
... That didn't mean the Broncos didn't work on running the offense out of the huddle Tuesday. "We want to do both," Kubiak said. "I know [Peyton Manning] can run the no-huddle; he does an exceptional job with that. We'd like to be able to huddle and play fast, too. You can do that, also."
... This might have been Manning's best practice of training camp. Even with Emmanuel Sanders out for most of the practice because of a hamstring injury, Manning was sharp, finding one receiver after another. He also did well reading the defense's blitzes, including one completion to Jordan Norwood, who ran a quick drag route from a slot alignment to be in position for Manning's perfect read. "Boy, he threw the ball well today," Kubiak said. Manning also forced the defense to jump offsides twice during the practice.
... Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan saw their first repetitions together as they continue to work their way back from injuries. Marshall made an immediate impact; in the first nine-on-seven period, he burst through and filled the hole to prevent C.J. Anderson from going anywhere.
... ILB Steven Johnson wasted little time showing that he was back from a sprained knee, blowing up a handoff to Juwan Thompson by breaking around the right side of the offensive line on his second play in the nine-on-seven period.
... Veteran CB Curtis Marsh is listed on the third team, and saw second-team work Monday because of injuries to Chris Harris Jr. and Kayvon Webster. Marsh showed quickness with his hands to break up a Brock Osweiler-to-Andre Caldwell pass in a seven-on-seven period.
The rain stayed away and the sun came out for the Broncos to practice outside on Tuesday for Day 12 of camp.
... OLB Shaquil Barrett was achingly close to the best play of the day. After DE Vance Walker deflected an Osweiler pass, Barrett stretched out and got his fingers to the football. It bounced off his fingertips four times before it fell to the ground.
... The No. 1 offense drove downfield for a touchdown against the No. 2 defense, driving to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Manning to TE Owen Daniels. Rookie ILB Zaire Anderson was there and appeared to pull the football out of Daniels' grasp after he crossed the goal line, so the touchdown stood. The No. 1 defense stopped the No. 2 offense on downs, with Bradley Roby swatting a pass away from Jordan Taylor on fourth down to end the series.
... WR Bennie Fowler had one of his best catches of camp, turning back and leaping over CB Lorenzo Doss to grab a pass form Osweiler near the right sideline.
... Caldwell had one of the best plays of the day, getting past CB Aqib Talib on a go route toward the right sideline and then making a splendid over-the-shoulder reception.
... Safety Omar Bolden and WR Solomon Patton split the work on punt returns.
... TE Dominique Jones consistently does well at finding gaps underneath coverage. He had a 10-yard reception in a seven-on-seven period from Osweiler by just finding open space and waiting for the fourth-year quarterback to find him.
... Former Broncos Tony Scheffler and Rod Smith attended practice. The always candid Smith spent nearly an hour after the session regaling the media with his thoughts on his career, the impact of social media on today's players and a host of other topics.
... DE Derek Wolfe has been cleared through the NFL's post-concussion protocol and saw "a little bit of work" Kubiak said. He was not in shoulder pads. "He's been cleared and will be back full-go with the team starting this afternoon," Kubiak said.
... CB Chris Harris Jr. watched a third consecutive practice. He has not seen on-field work since cramping up during last Friday's session. Kubiak said he conferred with Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos Tuesday morning and opted to rest the Pro Bowler. "Unless it was like, 'Oh, we're 100 percent; we're fine,' there was a little question there," Kubiak said. "So we said, 'Let's give him another day, and see where we're at.'"
... S David Bruton returned after missing two consecutive practices because of a sore Achilles tendon.
... FB/TE Joe Don Duncan returned after leaving Sunday's practice with a neck injury.
... OT Michael Schofield was back at practice after missing three days of four before the Monday off-day because of a back problem.
... ILB Steven Johnson returned to a full range of work after missing two days and being limited Sunday because of a knee sprain.
... OLB Lerentee McCray and NT Marvin Austin continued to miss time because of groin injuries.
... S Ross Madison returned after battling a groin injury for the past week.
... CB Curtis Marsh was back and saw extensive work after missing three days because of tightness in his quadriceps muscle.
... TE Jeff Heuerman (torn ACL) remains out indefinitely. He cannot go on the injured reserve list until the 75-man roster deadline Sept. 1.
... WR Emmanuel Sanders worked the first 30 minutes of practice, but was pulled thereafter as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. "He just didn't look like himself, and I'm going to be smart with him," Kubiak said. "He wanted to go."
WEATHER REPORT:A day after the storm, a gorgeous morning greeted the Broncos at the UCHealth Training Center. Practice began in 72°F/22.2°C conditions, and the temperature climbed to 77°F/25°C when practice ended.
With the rain away and the Broncos returned to the practice field at UCHealth Training Center for Day 12 of training camp. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)