ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Everything about Monday's practice was different than the first three days of Broncos training camp: cloudy skies, cooler temperatures, full pads on the players -- oh, and a Pro Bowl's worth of talent on the sideline.
A group of nine starters led by Peyton Manning watched from the sideline as Head Coach Gary Kubiak enacted his plan to give key veterans occasional rest days during this year's training camp.
Ever the competitor, it's clear how much Manning aches to play. But Kubiak saw during his stewardship as Broncos offensive coordinator how much rest days could help then-veterans like John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith and Tom Nalen, all of whom were effective late in their careers.
"We were standing beside each other one period, just kind of talking through things," Kubiak said of Manning. "I think it's good for him to watch what's going on, to give his body a break. I just think it will be good for him in the long haul.
"I know it's hard on him, and we all know that, but I think he understands why we're trying to do it."
TWEETS FROM THE FIELD:
... Guard Ben Garland was the first Bronco on the field for practice, followed by quarterbacks Brock Osweiler, Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian and, in a visor and no pads, Manning.
... Although rest days and injury recoveries left the No. 1 defense without eight of its 11 expected starters, Osweiler did get to work with most of the first-team offense. Aside from Manning, only TE Owen Daniels and RG Louis Vasquez were pulled. Perhaps most importantly, Osweiler got extended work with center Gino Gradkowski
... Osweiler missed an early deep shot to Emmanuel Sanders, but had his share of tough completions, including one in a team period when the right side of the line crumbled, but Osweiler stayed in the pocket and fired a bullet to WR Cody Latimer, who grabbed the pass.
... After being displeased with the way in which his team finished practice Saturday and Sunday, Kubiak praised how the Broncos surged toward the end of the day's work. In the move-the-ball period to close practice, the No. 1 offense advanced into defensive territory and would have reached field-goal range if not for an offensive holding penalty after TE/FB James Casey picked up 20 yards after getting wide open for a pass from Osweiler on the rollout. The No. 2 offense went three-and-out against the No. 1 defense, and the No. 3 offense mustered a first down against the top defense before the drive petered out.
... Juwan Thompson is the heaviest of the Broncos' running backs, and the full-contact, full-pad work helped him stand out. On multiple occasions, Thompson pushed the pile forward and powered for yardage when there were no holes in front of him.
... Befitting the intense nature of the practice, center Matt Paradis and DL Chuka Ndulue briefly scuffled in nine-on-seven work.
... OLB Danny Mason was one of the most active defenders Monday. In nine-on-seven, he helped stuff Jeremy Stewart behind the line of scrimmage. During one-on-one line drills, he consistently burst around the edge -- but not too far outside -- and into the backfield. He punctuated one of his successful rushes -- against rookie Charles Sweeton -- with a celebration. But the next time Mason lined up, Ty Sambrailo got a measure of revenge on behalf of the O-line, forcing Mason to the ground.
... OLB Shane Ray worked with the first team during the team period. He also split his time earlier in practice between coverage work in seven-on-seven and one-on-one work, with matchups against Sambrailo and Michael Schofield.
... Backup QB Trevor Siemian had some outstanding throws, including a bullet in the right flat to TE Virgil Green to beat Ray in coverage during the seven-on-seven period.
... Schofield continues to grow by the day. In pass protection, he does a better job of getting himself set and letting the pass rusher come into him, and in one-on-one drills was not prone to biting on spin moves, instead focusing on his own footwork.
... Ryan Harris remained at right tackle with the first team, which led to a question of whether it was part of the line shuffling or something more permanent. "There is a method to the madness," Kubiak said, noting that the progress of Schofield had an impact. "I'm not sure I can describe it to you, but first off, I think the best I can give you is that Michael is doing a really good job on the right side, and we want to continue to get him reps over there and look at him. The other guys, we feel like are pretty interchangeable. Michael's got to be, too, but we're trying to settle him down a little bit and look at him a little bit more."
... Rookie guard Max Garcia earned Kubiak's praise after practice, and with good reason: he's become one of the most pleasant success stories of training camp so far. Garcia does well at getting his hands up quickly and is also among the most tenacious interior blockers you will see. Rarely do you see a defensive lineman simply blow past Garcia.
... Connor Barth received all the game-condition field-goal attempts and went 4-of-5, including one 47-yard attempt that slammed off the left upright and through. He missed wide right from 47 yards, and hit from 47, 50 and 51 yards.
Day 4 of training camp at UCHealth Training Center where several of the Broncos veteran players were given a day off by Head Coach Gary Kubiak. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)
... WR Corbin Louks and OT Charles Sweeton made their Broncos debuts, wearing jersey numbers 6 and 71, respectively.
... TE Jeff Heuerman (torn ACL), WR Kyle Williams (ruptured Achilles tendon) were not in uniform and did not practice. Williams was placed on injured reserve later in the day.
... CB Tevrin Brandon was on the sideline but not in uniform. He injured his shoulder during Sunday's practice.
... WR Demaryius Thomas expanded his workload from individual to seven-on-seven work, He caught two passes from Osweiler during a seven-on-seven period.
... Jackson was limited to conditioning work. He was joined on the sideline by fellow starters Manning, TE Owen Daniels, RG Louis Vasquez, OLBs Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, CBs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. and safety T.J. Ward.
... ILBs Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan continued to work in individual and seven-on-seven periods.
... DE Antonio Smith continued to get limited repetitions and focused on conditioning during practice.
... TE Marcel Jensen returned after missing Sunday's practice because he was stepped on during Saturday's work. He was held out Sunday because Kubiak knew he would be needed for extensive duty Monday while Daniels rested.
INJURY REPORT:No new injuries were reported.
QUOTABLE:"Two days in a row, I felt like the majority of our mistakes are coming at the end of practice. That's when you're wore out. If you don't make those plays when you're [worn] out in the fourth quarter, in this league, it's going to be tougher. It's a focus. I just told them that I want them to feel it, not just me." -- Kubiak
WEATHER REPORT:The sun barely broke through the clouds that blanketed the UCHealth Training Center throughout the morning. Temperatures rose from 73°F/22.8°C to 78°F/25.6°C by the end of practice.
ATTENDANCE:4,658. Total camp attendance: 15,881 (average: 3,970).
Broncos open up their fourth day of training camp at UCHealth Training Center.