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Broncos Training Camp Takeaways: Day 1

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Head Coach Gary Kubiak wanted to make one thing clear to the Broncos before they began training camp: You're not defending a championship; you're pursuing another one.

And that means the Broncos aren't perceiving themselves as the hunted.

"We're hunting. We're hunting for another title," said safety T.J. Ward. "You can't take the one we have already. You have to go and get the one that's next. It's hanging over everyone's head. We're just trying to go get it."

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That process began Thursday with a practice that wasn't perfect, but was crisper than the typically ragged practices that open training camp.

"We came back ready to play. That's one thing I'm excited about, on both side of the ball," RB C.J. Anderson said. "That's our goal, our mindset is to go get [Super Bowl] LI. We want to chase multiple championships. I think everybody has bought into that mindset that Kub [Head Coach Gary Kubiak] is preaching to us."

Added Ward: "There's more confidence. You can feel that confidence in the air, that mojo we have, just walking around and the way we're working ... it's not a cockiness."

A few takeaways from the day's work follow:

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  1. SANCHEZ AND SIEMIAN STEP UP.**

Mark Sanchez was up first, followed by Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, and in terms of their play, the quarterbacks largely held true to that order during Thursday's work.

Sanchez made good decisions throughout the morning. On one in particular, he quickly stepped forward and out of traffic under a heavy pass rush.

Sanchez also was in complete control when he was in the huddle and under center.

"He definitely has that leadership factor," Anderson said. "The way he controls the huddle with me and [Demaryius Thomas], or Emmanuel [Sanders] and D.T., we're laughing and joking, and [he says], 'Hey! It's time to get to work.' He shuts us up like 18 [Peyton Manning] used to do."

Siemian looked composed in his work with the No. 2 offense, and completed 75 percent of his passes during team and seven-on-seven periods. But he threw the only interception of the day, when Lorenzo Doss jumped in front of a pass intended for Cody Latimer.

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2. UPS AND DOWNS FOR LYNCH.

Compared with Sanchez and Siemian, the day was rougher for Paxton Lynch.

On the positive side, he had perhaps the best single pass of practice, a thread-the-needle downfield toss to Durron Neal at the end of the seven-on-seven period. Lynch had a good, high release point as he threw, allowing the ball to sail just beyond the arm of an outstretched defender and into Neal's grasp. His confidence in throwing downfield is apparent, and as he improves his consistency, this will serve him well.

But Lynch also missed some makeable throws, including one to Kapri Bibbs in the flat that landed at the running back's feet.

"There really is not too much room for error," said outside linebacker Shane Ray. "I'm sure that he's going through a tough time, but we have faith in him. He's a good kid. He's got great study habits and he works hard. We're looking forward to seeing his development as a player.

"The only way to learn is [to know that] some time you are going to fall, but you are going to get up and try again."

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3. ANDERSON IN THE BEST CAMP-OPENING SHAPE OF HIS CAREER.

Earlier this week, Anderson tweeted out his pre-training camp weight: 217.2 pounds -- the lightest weight he's had going into a camp in his pro career.

The result was obvious: Anderson looked quick when he made his cuts in the backfield, and he looked no less stout than usual in pass protection, picking up one rush from 305-pound Vance Walker.

Anderson credited his shape to not only diet and work with the weights, but "a lot more conditioning.

"I did a lot more running in the offseason training than I've ever done, down there in Houston," Anderson said. "I think Houston helps, too, because it's super hot down there, so it's a lot easier to lose some weight," he said.

The result was obvious: Anderson looked quick when he made his cuts in the backfield, and he looked no less stout than usual in pass protection, picking up one rush from 305-pound Vance Walker.

"He's trimmer," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "The thing about it is you just want to make sure you're ready to go for the games. As long as he can go out there and break those tackles like he has in the past and do the things that he can do, I really don't care what weight he's at, as long as he can perform."

That's what Anderson expects to do.

"I've always said I wanted to be the best," Anderson said. "I think this is the year to do it."

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The Broncos' 2016 training camp is underway with the start of Thursday's practice at UCHealth Training Center. (photos by Eric Bakke)

  1. LOOK FOR BIG THINGS FROM JUSTIN SIMMONS.**

The third-round pick was a ballhawk during OTAs. He didn't get an interception, a forced fumble or fumble recovery during Thursday's practice, but was active covering a lot of ground deep alongside Darian Stewart and with T.J. Ward assuming his familiar role moving close to the line of scrimmage.

For Simmons to stick and earn extensive work, he has to meet the standard of the players around him. But to Ward, Simmons is already there.

"I think he has been. I don't see why he wouldn't continue it through the season," Ward said. "I think he's that type of player, that type of young man, that he gets it."

That's high praise from one of the Broncos' defensive leaders, and Simmons wants to live up to it.

"It means a lot. I still have a lot to improve on. I'm still out here learning the safety position and all these other positions," Simmons said. "Hat tip to T.J. and Darian Stewart; those guys are really helping me in the meeting room, on the field, after plays, in water breaks, even on special teams and things like that."

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  1. THOMAS, SANDERS IN MIDSEASON FORM.**

The top two receivers were the two most frequent targets during the first team period; each receiver caught three passes from Sanchez, and their timing with the veteran quarterback looked crisp.

Thomas made one catch in particular that showed the fruit of his work to curtail drops. During the one-on-one period, he ran a slant route with Harris draped on him. Lynch fired, and Thomas reached forward and plucked the football into his grasp despite Harris' best efforts.

That's the kind of in-traffic catch Thomas needs to make.

"He's very focused. I think you saw that today. He practiced really good today," Kubiak said., "D.T. and I texted probably five or six times in the last week, talking to me about preparation and expectations and those types of things. So yes, I see a great focus from him."

Added Sanders: "Demaryius had a great day at practice. He was making all the plays."

6. "UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM."

"Unbridled enthusiasm ... that's what led to Billy Mumphrey's downfall." pic.twitter.com/QiCXgCkxa8 — Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 28, 2016

On Seinfeld, it apparently led to Billy Mumphrey's downfall, but on the practice field, it was exactly what you wanted to see from Von Miller as he hit the practice field with his teammates for the first time since the days leading up to his MVP performance in Super Bowl 50.

As the Broncos broke off into position drills, Miller danced around, bouncing into position while getting the crowd fired up. Many of the 3,407 chanted, "M-V-P! M-V-P!" and Miller responded in kind by continuing to dance.

"One thing about Von is he loves to play. I know the concern is that he wasn't here for the offseason, but he sure went around good," Kubiak said.

Miller only took part in individual drills; team and one-on-one work against the offensive line will have to wait until he is fully up to speed after missing all offseason work because of his unsigned franchise tender.

"We'll build him up each day and get him to a full participant, but he looks good," Kubiak said.

Some of Broncos Country's most passionate fans were lined up for the opening of training camp Thursday morning. (photos by Aric DiLalla except for those noted by Eric Bakke)

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