ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Head Coach Vance Joseph wanted his team to ratchet up the intensity for its scrimmage period Saturday.
For the most part, he got exactly what he wanted.
"Absolutely I did, on both sides of the ball," he said after the brisk, 90-minute practice. "Everyone was engaged. They wanted to play well today. It was physical without tackling for the first two groups, and the third group actually tackled."
... However, there was one moment when the intensity went too far -- and it cost Paxton Lynch and the No. 2 offense a chance to build some needed momentum.
To that point in practice, four drives for the first- and second-team offenses had resulted in no points and just one first down. The No. 2 offense had gone three-and-out on one drive led by Trevor Siemian and another piloted by Lynch. It needed momentum.
When Lynch dropped back and found Kalif Raymond on the right sideline for a 14-yard gain, it looked like the offense had finally found it. But far away from the catch, back on the opposite side of the field, Donald Stephenson shoved a defender in the back, and a flag flew.
Back the offense moved -- 15 yards, to its 34-yard line. A promising gain and a potential drive to rewrite the narrative of the day was wiped out. The offense managed to move the sticks again on three consecutive runs, but a chance for a quick sprint into scoring range went by the wayside.
Joseph was understandably upset with Stephenson.
"It was our best play up to that point in the entire scrimmage, and we get a nonsense penalty, a push in the back after the play," Joseph said. "He blocked his guy. He did his job. The play is over. Don't be selfish and get a penalty and back us up 15 [yards]."
It's a scrimmage within a practice. So it's about learning lessons and applying them to when the snaps actually count. But this is when habits are formed, and that's why Joseph sought out Stephenson after practice to speak with him.
"He blocked his guy. He did his job. The play is over. Don't be selfish and get a penalty and back us up 15 [yards]."
... The offensive penalties rankled Joseph, and sat atop of the list of things he didn't like from the scrimmage.
"What I didn't like was the penalties on offense," he said. We make our best play, we get [near] the 50-yard line for the first time and we get a push in the back."
... As expected, Siemian and Lynch split the first-team repetitions. Siemian was up first and guided the offense to a first down after finding WR Bennie Fowler on a quick slant for 23 yards on third-and-5. But the drive stalled from there, and the offense settled for a 56-yard Brandon McManus field-goal attempt that hit the left upright.
Siemian led a single drive with the No. 2 offense that went three-and-out. A false-start penalty against LG Allen Barbre knocked the offense back on that series.
"From Trevor, he was very consistent with his ball placement," Joseph said. "He made the correct reads most of the time. He had one ball knocked down -- not his fault -- but [he was] very solid."
Lynch's first drive with the No. 1 offense ended in an interception -- although the play would have likely been a sack in game conditions as OLB Kasim Edebali roared up the middle on a delayed blitz, but he held up so he wouldn't hit the quarterback.
"He held the ball too late in that play," Joseph said. "He had a guy open in the flat early on, but he held the ball, held the ball, held the ball. It's a time clock thing. As you hold the ball, the defense recovers."
Joseph said that Lynch was "very solid" outside of his interception. He had one potential first down called back via the Stephenson penalty, and another potential completion to Jordan Taylor that would have moved the sticks was blown dead for a sack.
... The only touchdown of the day came via the No. 3 offense, which drove to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Sloter to Carlos Henderson. The biggest play of the drive came when Sloter hit rookie Anthony Nash for 32 yards on third-and-15; Nash ran a crossing route and added 12 yards after the catch to move the offense into the defense's territory.
... Joseph was impressed with the run defense, calling it "really stout."
The first-team defense did a good job filling gaps and held running backs to just 14 yards on five carries, with 9 yards coming on a third-and-20 play. The second-team defense allowed 22 rushing yards, including 11 on three consecutive carries by De'Angelo Henderson that moved the chains.
... DE Adam Gotsis had an impressive performance working with the No. 2 defensive line, stuffing a run at the line of scrimmage and then knocking down a Siemian pass on consecutive plays to help force a three-and-out.
"He's bounced back," Joseph said. "He came back today and played well. He's had a great spring and a great camp. Keeping him healthy is a must so we can see what he can do."
PARTICIPATION REPORT: **
... RT Menelik Watson was not in uniform for Saturday's work because of a muscle strain. He is expected to miss Monday's practice, but should return Tuesday and play next Thursday against the Bears.
... S T.J. Ward was diagnosed with a "minor" hamstring strain after leaving the field Friday. He is expected to miss the next week of work and return at some point shortly after the preseason opener.
... C Matt Paradis saw a handful of repetitions in the scrimmage, which was more than was initially expected. "He's progressing fast. He felt fine this morning to play four or five plays, so we allowed him to play."
... RG Ron Leary was limited to individual work because of a groin injury. Connor McGovern and Billy Turner handled the repetitions in his place.
... ILB Todd Davis missed practice because of a shoulder injury. Corey Nelson stepped in and worked on the first team in his spot.
... RB Bernard Pierce remains out with a hamstring injury.
WEATHER REPORT:The sun occasionally broke through a layer of clouds during the practice, with temperatures hovering between 67°F and 72°F.
ATTENDANCE:7,085, a record for a practice held at UCHealth Training Center.
Before a record crowd, the Broncos had their most intense tune-up yet on Saturday at training camp. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)