ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It was time for goal-line work, but unlike previous years, the Broncos held back a little bit in the interest of health and safety.
As a result, plays didn't always go to the whistle, which played into the hands of the defense, which conceded just two touchdowns on 10 overall plays with the first and second units facing each other.
With contact held down, running backs did not have the same opportunity to plow through tacklers as they would in game conditions, which is why the results of Saturday's goal-line period must be taken with a whole shaker's worth of salt.
"As a coach, you almost feel guilty having a goal-line period, but we're not full speed," Kubiak said. "We're not cutting and all. It's very difficult, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but we're trying to teach.
The goal-line period was most active when the Broncos opted to pass, and the defense came up big. LB Corey Nelson helped break up two attempts to TEs Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, and safety Darian Stewart capped the first-team work for the day with a leaping interception after Peyton Manning rolled right.
"Most definitely, you've got to take them as they come, man, so I'm definitely happy with that," Stewart. "It's just [about] getting more."
The second-team offense fared better; it went against the No. 2 defense and scored twice. But the period also saw good pressure from OLB Shane Ray, who took a good angle on backup QB Brock Osweiler to prevent the mobile fourth-year passer from running toward the pylon. Osweiler instead settled for an incompletion.
Osweiler also found TE Dominique Jones for a touchdown during the goal-line period.
TWEETS FROM THE FIELD:
... With consistent pressure from Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Malik Jackson -- who is doing a great job quickly lowering his shoulder against an opposing lineman and getting into position to attack the backfield -- the defense had the run of play throughout practice. "Defensively, we practiced extremely well today. That was probably our most dominant performance defensively as far as just our attitude and staying in the moment all day long," Kubiak said.
... On the flip side, the offense struggled with miscues, including a fumbled snap between Gino Gradkowski and Brock Osweiler. "We made a lot of mistakes and the ball was on the ground," Kubiak said.
... The "move-the-ball" period saw the offense given the football at midfield with 45 seconds remaining, one timeout and a 23-21 deficit. When the first units faced each other, the offense got the better of it, using a 28-yard Manning-to-Owen Daniels pass to set up a 35-yard Brandon McManus field goal. Daniels made a gorgeous over-the-shoulder catch to set up the kick.
But the drive would not have happened if Bradley Roby had not been whistled for offsides on the first play of the series, which ended in a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by Aqib Talib. Pressure from Von Miller and Malik Jackson helped set up the errant throw, which was intended for Andre Caldwell. But it was all for naught, and the offense capitalized.
"The thing we have to eliminate defensively: we're having some penalties, some penalties that extended some drives for the offense today, those types of things," Kubiak said. "We're making too many [big] plays to hurt ourselves."
In the duel of second teams, the defense limited the offense to just seven yards, forcing it to settle for a 61-yard McManus field-goal attempt that missed wide right.
... Manning rolled out multiple times during practice, and had some success, although his rollouts closed with the Stewart interception. "Rico [Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison] had him on the move like a young man today," Kubiak said.
On one of his runs, he got outside of Von Miller and to the outside, eliciting one of the loudest ovations of the day. On another, Manning found WR Demaryius Thomas in the right flat. But the defense gradually adjusted, and on one play, safety T.J. Ward read the developing pass perfectly, covering C.J. Anderson and getting to him as the pass arrived.
... DT Sione Fua had some flashes of brilliance, bursting into the backfield to defuse two run plays during team periods early in practice.
... ILB Brandon Marshall is still getting accustomed to dealing with the extra traffic that goes with his role in the 3-4 scheme, but did a good job closing running lanes in his third day of team repetitions.
... Manning used a hard count to draw a pair of offsides penalties Saturday.
... Center Matt Paradis and LG Max Garcia worked with the first team for a third consecutive day. Paradis has to keep his head on a swivel, but had some promising plays where he was able to get an initial block on NT Sylvester Williams and then pivot to help block Marshall. Garcia had some solid moments, but Kubiak noted that he must become more consistent. "This stage isn't too big for him, but he's got to learn to play against players down in and down out," Kubiak said.
... In addition to his catch in the goal-line period, Jones had a smooth over-the-shoulder reception of an Osweiler pass earlier in practice.
... Sunday will be a veterans' rest day, so Manning, Miller, Ware, CB Chris Harris Jr., TE Owen Daniels and RG Louis Vasquez are not expected to practice. All sat out last Monday's practice. "It'll be pretty much a young practice [Sunday] morning, but we'll have our pads on; we need to get some work done," Kubiak said.
Saturday the Broncos started their ninth day of 2015 training camp at UCHealth Training Center.
... WR Emmanuel Sanders missed a second consecutive practice because of a hamstring injury. "He could have practiced," Kubiak said. "It was my decision."
... WR Demaryius Thomas and DE Antonio Smith continued to see more snaps as they get back to a full workload after not taking part in OTAs and minicamp. "I think they went through 11 periods, and there were 14 periods [total]," Kubiak said, adding that Smith was "pretty much ready to be turned loose" when the team returns from its Monday off-day.
... CB Chris Harris Jr. did not practice for precautionary reasons, Kubiak said. Harris suffered a cramp during practice Friday. "We're looking at a [veterans] break [Sunday], so we're going to err on the side [of caution] with anybody through getting the day, and then another off-day before he starts playing," Kubiak said.
... ILB Danny Trevathan saw his first team-period work of training camp with some third-down work. "That's the first time he's been in an environment where he might be in a pile," Kubiak said. "That's a step forward." He will get "a little bit more" work Sunday, Kubiak added.
... S David Bruton was held out of practice because of a sore Achilles tendon.
... OT Michael Schofield was held out of practice because of a back problem that sidelined him Thursday. He saw limited work Friday.
... ILB Steven Johnson missed his second consecutive practice because of a knee sprain he suffered Thursday.
... DE Derek Wolfe is going through the league-mandated concussion protocol and did not practice, but was on the sideline wearing sunglasses.
... OLB Lerentee McCray, S Ross Madison and NT Marvin Austin remained sidelined with groin injuries.
... CB Curtis Marsh missed a second consecutive practice because of tightness in his quadriceps muscle. He worked with a team trainer during Saturday's session.
... TE Jeff Heuerman (torn ACL) is out indefinitely. He cannot go on the injured reserve list until the 75-man roster deadline Sept. 1.
... RB C.J. Anderson did not take part in the goal-line period after suffering a slight shoulder injury, Kubiak said. "He wanted to [practice], but I told 'Greek' [Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos] to take him out," Kubiak said."
... CB Kayvon Webster was pulled out of practice because of a rib injury. He suited up for practice but was "kind of sore" after a collision Friday Kubiak said.
WEATHER REPORT:The skies were mostly sunny, with conditions a bit cooler than the last few days. Temperatures rose from 71°F/21.7°C to 80°F/26.7°C by the time practice concluded.