ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —It took nearly five days, but the competitiveness of training camp finally boiled over into a full-blown fracas Monday morning.
When ILB Zaire Anderson shoved RB Stevan Ridley too forcefully into the sideline, LT Ty Sambrailo decided that this aggression would not stand, and it was on.
Sambrailo was blocking elsewhere on the field, but he hustled to the north sideline to stand up for his fallen offensive teammate. Seconds later, much of the team ran over to the scene, although the anger was generally contained to Anderson and Sambrailo.
Because it didn't spill over and no one was injured, the dust-up was basically harmless -- and, if anything, it showed Head Coach Vance Joseph the kind of all-for-one spirit he wants to see from his team.
"Absolutely. I think when you see your offensive lineman defend your running back -- right, wrong or indifferent -- I think you enjoy seeing that, because you want to build toughness, you want to build guys being tight to carry your teammates," Joseph said.
But there is a line that cannot be crossed. Moments later, when the period ended, Joseph called his team together with a simple message: "Stop the nonsense and let's finish practice."
"Obviously, you can't fight in games, and that's the part -- from my chair -- that you can't allow," Joseph said. "You can't build habits of fighting when adversity strikes, because in a football game, it's going to be a bad result. I don't mind some of it, but I understand you can't do it in football games, so we can't have it."
... Even without the heated exchange, Monday's practice would have gone down as the most intense of training camp to date, in part because of the nature of the work, which included periods emphasizing the run, red-zone and one-on-one battles between the receivers and cornerbacks, linemen and tight ends and running backs working against linebackers and safeties.
... After Joseph expressed displeasure with the performance of his quarterbacks during Sunday's practice, Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian settled down and had some stronger moments Monday.
Siemian accounted for the longest gain of the day, executing a perfect play-action fake to hit WR Marlon Brown on a post route for a 40-yard gain during a team period.
... Lynch had some good moments early. He showed off his arm strength on a pair of passes to the sideline, firing strikes to Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer that had plenty of zip.
The second-year quarterback also had some strong work during a goal-line period, connecting on touchdown passes to Virgil Green and C.J. Anderson against the first-team defense. The touchdown pass to Green was one of Lynch's best plays so far in camp; he corralled a low snap from Connor McGovern without missing a beat, spotted Green in tight coverage against Brandon Marshall, and then fired a well-placed pass on a fade route that Green grabbed in the back of the end zone for the score.
But Lynch hit a rough patch working with the No. 2 offense during a seven-on-seven period. The second-team defense intercepted consecutive passes, with Justin Simmons and Corey Nelson each recording their first interceptions of training camp. Lynch's next pass was nearly intercepted.
... DeMarcus Walker continues to adjust well to working at outside linebacker, showing quickness off the edge during one-on-one and team periods.
... The practice closed with the No. 1 and No. 2 offense each given one chance to score against the No. 1 and No. 2 defense, respectively, from the 8-yard line.
The defense won both plays. On the first, Lynch had to go low to retrieve the snap and the play devolved from there, with Von Miller bursting around the left edge as the pocket collapsed before the play was blown dead. On the second, Siemian located WR Jordan Taylor near the right pylon, but Taylor dropped the potential touchdown catch.
Joseph ended some OTA practices with a similar drill, which he uses because he wants his team to practice under do-or-die, pressure-simulation conditions.
"The idea is that it's the last play of the game from the 8-yard line, one play, no timeouts, go win it," Joseph said. "It's all about competition. Pushing our offense and defense to be competitive. Every drill is being graded. Every drill ends with a result: a winner and a loser."
... RG Ron Leary did not practice Monday because of a groin injury. Billy Turner worked on the first team in his place. Joseph said that Turner has continued to practice through a "slight hamstring pull."
... RB De'Angelo Henderson returned to practice after sitting out Sunday's work because of an ankle injury. Henderson saw some spot work on the first team early in relief of C.J. Anderson and demonstrated good burst moving through gaps created by the No. 1 offensive line on that series.
... RB Jamaal Charles returned to practice Monday and continued to work during individual periods. Charles will see some seven-on-seven repetitions later this week, Joseph said. "We're going to keep him out of the team drills, [because] we don't want to get him tangled," Joseph said. "Start him with seven-on-seven, and then add team in the next week."
... C Matt Paradis and DE Adam Gotsis are expected to being seeing some team-period repetitions at some point later this week after the Broncos return following their Tuesday off day, Joseph said. Gotsis will be brought along faster than Paradis, Joseph said.
... DE Derek Wolfe left practice with what Joseph described as a "small stinger" in his right shoulder. Joseph said that it was "nothing serious," and that his departure was precautionary in nature. Wolfe could return Wednesday.
... Rookie CB Marcus Rios has a "slight little groin" injury, Joseph said. "He should be back Wednesday, hopefully."
... RB Bernard Pierce remains out because of a pulled hamstring.
WEATHER REPORT:A warm morning greeted the Broncos, with temperatures that rose from 72°F to 79°F under partly cloudy skies.