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Broncos Training Camp Takeaways: Day 2


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **If you've clicked around Broncos-related social media or this site, you know about Jordan Taylor's circus catch during the one-on-one period. If you need a reminder, here it is:

But big receptions may not determine whether "Sunshine" makes a regular-season roster for the first time. Taylor earned Peyton Manning's trust and praise last year for his work in practice and in late-season throwing sessions, when he helped Manning get back up to speed as he recovered from a foot injury.

But if you're not a starter, you can't make the roster as a wide receiver without bringing something else to the table, and that's where the Friday takeaways begin.


The Broncos continue to work at Day 2 of training camp. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless otherwise noted)


Broncos fans -- and football-related social media in general -- is abuzz about Jordan Taylor, and with good reason: His catch in the one-on-one period is as spectacular as anything in recent memory from a training-camp practice.

The Broncos already knew about Taylor's soft hands, precise routes and cuts that leave defenders flat-footed. His spectacular catch was noteworthy, but far from the first one he's made that used different facets of his athleticism.

But it won't have the same impact on his future as his work on special teams. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders established as the top two wide receivers, he must establish a role on the third phase, just as Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer and Jordan Norwood have.

"I've got to have a huge role on special teams this year," Taylor said.

During Friday's practice, he worked as an up man on kickoff returns. That's the kind of role he will have to establish for himself if he is to crack the 53-man roster for the first time.

It's also something that is relatively new to him.

"In college, honestly, I didn't do too much of it. This is the first time I've really done [special teams] -- and definitely the most I've done," he said. "I'm just trying to get used to it, get into the swing of things, and improve."



Late in the second team period, Sanchez found Bennie Fowler down the seam to the right side in the kind of pass that quickly gets forgotten amid the hundreds that are thrown every day during a training-camp practice.

Fowler did what a receiving target is supposed to do; he "finished," as in he ran all the way to the end zone, even though the play is dead and a quarterback typically is turning back to his position coach for pointers. Usually, the receiver runs to the goal line, turns around and jogs back by himself.

But this time was different, because Sanchez ran 70 yards downfield to greet Fowler and give him a high-five just after he crossed the goal line.

The day was not perfect for Sanchez. He struggled early, throwing an interception to Chris Harris Jr. after being flushed out of the pocket by Shaquil Barrett. But he also fired the deep pass in one-on-one work that Taylor turned into a highlight-reel grab, and closed the day strongly, completing six of his final eight passes in team and seven-on-seven periods, and he ran the first-team offense during the final seven-on-seven segment, completing passes to C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas and Jordan Norwood.

"Mark has practiced really well for a couple of days," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said.



By splitting the team onto two fields during seven-on-seven periods, Head Coach Gary Kubiak gave Paxton Lynch his longest stretch of seven-on-seven repetitions since he joined the Broncos.

Lynch appeared much more settled today than he did Thursday; if there were any first-day jitters, they largely vanished. During the second seven-on-seven period near the end of practice, Lynch completed nine of 10 passes, and in the team and seven-on-seven periods overall, Lynch completed nearly 78 percent of his passes, and is the only one of the three quarterbacks who has not thrown an interception in team or seven-on-seven periods so far.

It wasn't all perfect, however. Lynch missed a golden opportunity for a deep connection when his pass to Taylor in the team period hung up a bit too long. Safety Brandian Ross capitalized and broke up the pass.

Kubiak moved his arm up and down to describe the vacillation of Lynch's work over the last two days.

"A really good period, and a really rough period," Kubiak said of Lynch. "But very talented."



It hasn't taken long for wide receiver Marlon Brown and tight end John Phillips to work their way into the passing game. Taking advantage of the division of the offense onto two fields, both caught multiple passes during the seven-on-seven periods Friday.

Brown's quick adjustment was due to his familiarity with the offense. He played under Kubiak in Baltimore in 2014, when the Broncos' current head coach was the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

"Marlon can help this team," Kubiak said. "He's made it very competitive and I think the guys know that. I feel very fortunate to get him."

Brown opened the first seven-on-seven period by catching a pass deep up the right side from Lynch, and he would catch two more passes from the rookie quarterback later in a seven-on-seven period. He also caught a pass from Lynch in the second team period.

"Marlon knows the offense because he's been with me before, so he's in the right spot and Pax has got to throw it to the guy he's supposed to throw it to," Kubiak said.

Phillips leaned on his veteran experience through seven previous seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers. Although his primary role will be as a blocker, he can get involved in the passing game as a target when needed.

The Broncos signed Phillips after placing Manasseh Garner on the waived/non-football illness list because he underwent an emergency appendectomy.



Some of the best work of the day came from that side of the line of scrimmage. Its standout plays included:

... Harris' interception of Sanchez, the defense's only theft of the day;

... Will Parks making a good read on one of Lynch's passes in seven-on-seven, breaking it up across the middle;

... Todd Davis breaking through to fill holes on multiple rushing plays, leading to a stuff or forcing the ballcarrier to the outside;

... Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray both bursting around the tackle for plays that would have likely been sacks under game conditions;

... Derek Wolfe and Vance Walker crashing through the line to help stuff runs during the team period.

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' unit still isn't at full strength; Von Miller saw limited work in the nine-on-seven period and Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware remain sidelined. But the defense has talent to spare, and it's used it well so far.

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