ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' unit dialing up a furious pass rush during the team period, the offense had some bumps after getting off to a strong start.
"I think the first hour of practice offensively might be as good as we've practiced," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "The last half hour, 45 minutes, we have to be better. Defensively we made some big plays towards the end of practice."
But in Thursday's preseason opener in Chicago, the quarterbacks won't have to see a defense like the one they face every day.
Takeaways from Monday's work follow:
1. SANCHEZ: TESTED BY THE BEST
A steady diet of lockdown cornerbacks playing man coverage accentuated by edge rushers with speed to spare has given Mark Sanchez the most difficult look imaginable in training camp when he works with the first team.
In the past two practices, Sanchez has thrown two interceptions -- both made by Bradley Roby on passes intended for Emmanuel Sanders, and both returned for touchdowns.
"We're playing against some of the best DBs in the league," Sanchez said. "Roby's been making some really great plays out there. That's good. It's good for us to see and good for us to learn from."
It hasn't all been negative; Sanchez has made some plays. His seven-on-seven touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the shadow of the goalposts was a beautiful throw, made through a narrow window just ahead of an outstretched Kayvon Webster.
That play punctuated a period in which Sanchez went 7-of-8 with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, including 3-for-4 in the red zone.
"You have to anticipate locations. You have to anticipate windows against this defense. Even if a guy's open, he's not open for long," Sanchez said. "It's good for us to work on our accuracy and timing. It's only going to help us."
2. SIEMIAN: GAME WORK WILL BE CRUCIAL
Trevor Siemian has already shown he can play within himself and display a steady hand in practice when he guides the first team. But his best chance to stake a claim to the No. 1 spot in the regular season is by showing that same unruffled demeanor in game conditions.
He knows that his work Thursday and in subsequent games will have a "big-time" impact on his eventual role among the quarterbacks.
"Practice is one thing, but you've got to be able to do your job when it matters in the games," he said. "I know it's preseason, but it's a good opportunity for all of us, regardless of what group we're going out with, to execute and carry over some of the things we've been working on out here."
In his rookie year, Siemian's preseason game results were mixed. He played well in the fourth quarter in the first preseason game at Seattle and led a game-winning drive at Houston, but struggled in the preseason finale against Arizona, going 11-for-24 for 104 yards with a touchdown and an interception while absorbing three sacks.
Monday, the defense cranked up the pressure in a no-huddle period, and Siemian's passes fell incomplete under heavy rush. But he took positives from the experience.
"Obviously there are some things that I want to get better at, but that's going to come, especially against our defense," Siemian said. "They're going to get their licks in and we'll roll with it, and hopefully get your shots in when you get those chances. I think we're all getting better for that reason."
3. LYNCH: MEASURING HIS PROGRESS THROUGH DECISION-MAKING
A significant aspect to Paxton Lynch's growth is -- and will be -- going through his reads fast enough to make quick, accurate decisions in the pocket.
Sometimes, that will mean deciding to run -- a choice he has made more often in recent days, including twice on Monday when he escaped the rush of Eddie Yarbrough and turned collapsing pockets into solid gains.
"That's something that I stated picking up on and feeling more comfortable with," Lynch said. "If something's not there the first, second, or third read, and I feel the pocket breaking down, I'll get out and run with it like you would in the game.
"That's kind of how I see those reps, when it's in the game and the pocket breaks down, I'm going to run with it in practice."
A natural feel for the rush and mobility are among the traits that pushed Lynch into the first round of this year's draft. The scheme's ability to maximize those traits -- which is evident in his effective execution of the play-fake bootleg -- is part of what he likes most.
"I'm really excited about how they like to move the quarterback around and have some keepers, play-actions and drop-backs as well," he said. "They do a lot of stuff and I like that, especially when I get to get out of the pocket and get on the run."
Lynch is also getting more comfortable under center; he said he's seeing the field "a lot better" when he drops back. But Monday wasn't his best day; he didn't lead his receivers as well as he has in some previous days, although some catchable balls were dropped.
"I came out here and didn't have the best of days after an off day," he said. "I'll put that behind me and move on to tomorrow because we have a game this week. I'm just doing what I have to do and taking the reps as I get them right now."
- NOT HUNG UP ON THE DEPTH CHART**
According to Lynch and RB Kapri Bibbs, Kubiak told his players not to read too much into the public release of the first depth chart of the preseason.
"Like Kubs preached to us, 'The spots don't matter. We have to put out a depth chart," said Bibbs.
That was a relief for the former Colorado State standout. Although he has enjoyed some flashes of brilliance during training camp -- including some repetitions with the first team -- he was listed as the No. 4 running back behind C.J. Anderson and co-No. 2 backs Ronnie Hillman and Devontae Booker.
"It's not frustrating at all. That's how the game goes," Bibbs said. "My whole thing is, I've got to work anyways. This spot is never going to be given to me. Nothing in my life has ever been given to me. I've just got to go and take it in preseason."
Added Anderson: "I didn't even know we put a depth chart out today. I don't pay attention at all. At the end of the day, it can always change. I can't speak for the other depth charts around the league, but it can interchange at any time. You better always be on your Ps and Qs."
The Broncos returned to UC Health Training Center on Monday after an off day, ready to prepare for Thursday's preseason opener vs. the Chicago Bears. (photos by Eric Bakke unless noted)
- OKUNG SETTLES IN**
If you go to training camp, isolate your binoculars on Russell Okung and watch him move, particularly as he gets set in pass protection. His footwork is among the best of any left tackle in the league, and because he can move his feet so quickly and maintain his balance, he is able to hold his own against speed rushers on the outside while not leaving himself too vulnerable to a spin move to the inside.
That helps keep the pass rushers on their toes.
"I look forward to every time I get to go against Russell because he's such a bigger guy," said OLB Shane Ray on Saturday. "I feel like if I can do well against him then, there are not too many other guys in the league that have that same size and ability [and] I'll be alright."