ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Tuesday's work was all about getting fresh and prepared for two days of practices against the 49ers that Head Coach Gary Kubiak plan to evaluate like preseason games.
In that vein, the takeaways from the 20th day of training camp are mostly about looking ahead:
- WARE GETS CLOSER**
Don't expect DeMarcus Ware to take part in any preseason games, but his current progress has Kubiak optimistic that he could be back on the field in less than a week.
"He's real close," Kubiak said. "He's real close. I think you could see him be a part of the team here in four, five days. That's what we're thinking. He's made that much progress. Hopefully next week I'm sitting here talking about him playing on the field."
Ware was able to run up the hill near the practice fields before Tuesday's practice, and if he can return by next week, he will be well-positioned to play in Week 1 against Carolina as long as he avoids any further setbacks.
- MILLER, OKUNG AND TALIB PROGRESSING**
For a second consecutive day, OLB Von Miller and LT Russell Okung worked with the first team deep into practice, and CB Aqib Talib worked throughout seven-on-seven and the team period. Talib is expected to have a full practice workload Wednesday.
Talib is expected to make his game-time debut next week against the Los Angeles Rams, but Miller and Okung could be cleared to play in the 49ers game on Saturday.
"My first reaction to that would be, 'Yes,'" Kubiak said. "They need to step on the field. Obviously they would not play as much as anybody else because it will be their first time."
Last year, Brandon Marshall made his preseason debut in the second game against Houston and played the first quarter, leaving while the starters had another half a quarter to play. A similar plan could be in place for Miller and Okung.
- SETTING THE PLAN WITH THE 49ERS**
Kubiak said that he and 49ers head coach Chip Kelly worked out the structure of the practices during conversations held three months ago, with further tweaks made in the last few months.
The 49ers represent a good foe for the Broncos, especially for their defense, as Kelly's offense alters its pace and uses a variety of formations to try and catch a defense off-guard. Kubiak's team is likely to see some looks that aren't yet on film as Kelly is just seven months into his stewardship.
"It's nice to see something different. We'll see a different defense, different coverages. Offensively we'll see speed-type tempo and those types of things. It's just really good for our players. You want to see your guys against other people. You see them against yourself all the time."
One part of the plan that isn't set? Who will start at quarterback on Saturday. Mark Sanchez saw the first-team repetitions in seven-on-seven work Tuesday, while Trevor Siemian got the call for the No. 1 offense in the team period. They will continue to split first-team practice repetitions, but Kubiak said he has not decided which one will start in the game.
The Broncos prepared Tuesday for a visit from the San Francisco 49ers, who will face off with the Broncos in joint practices Wednesday and Thursday. (Photos by Eric Bakke)
- ZAIRE ANDERSON, WREAKING HAVOC**
Even on a day when the pace was throttled back, the young linebacker was in the right place at the right time, filling holes and getting in position to stop runs. This is what he's done throughout training camp, and also in the preseason opener at Chicago.
Kubiak said that he had a conversation with Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips during Tuesday's practice about Anderson's palpable progress in establishing a role for himself.
"He's probably one of the players that has come the furthest," Kubiak said. "The only thing that holds Zaire back is the total understanding of the defense because he has to make calls. He has to do all that.
"His effort, how he plays and his reactions are really good now that he understands the defense. You'll see a better player."
The play of Anderson and third-year veteran Corey Nelson offers the Broncos confidence that their linebacker depth will not merely be sufficient in the wake of Danny Trevathan's free-agent departure, but a strength.
Anderson credits his instincts as much as his study of the scheme and his growing comfort in it.
"There's a lot of players that know the defense in and out, but they're not around the ball every time," he said.