ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Midway through practice, after a series of scuffles threatened to send the joint practice fully off the rails, Head Coach Gary Kubiak called his offense together with a simple message: Work now or prepare to work later.
"I told them, 'Do you want to practice now or do you want to come back tonight?'" he said.
Things calmed down, and as the Broncos adjourned at the end of training camp, the story wasn't a practice that went askew, but how the team was set up going into its second preseason game.
- SETTING PLAYING TIME FOR SATURDAY**
Kubiak announced that Trevor Siemian would start and play into the second quarter, with Mark Sanchez working approximately the same number of repetitions and Paxton Lynch seeing the remainder of the night's work.
But the game will also mark the 2016 season debuts for OT Russell Okung and OLB Von Miller. Neither will play as long as the rest of the first-teamers, but both are expected to start. It is similar to how the Broncos handled ILB Brandon Marshall last year in the second preseason game when he was coming off foot surgery; Marshall played one quarter in that game at Houston.
CB Aqib Talib is not expected to play, as has been indicated earlier this week. But DE Derek Wolfe could see action, even though he missed Thursday's work because of the ankle injury he suffered Wednesday.
"Derek is fine," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "I expect Derek back tomorrow for our light practice. I expect him to play."
That elicits a huge sigh of relief from the Broncos and their fans, many of whom feared the worst when Wolfe was helped off the field after suffering the ankle injury Wednesday.
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips didn't want to share what he thought when he saw Wolfe on the ground.
"We don't want to hear that [said] in public," Phillips said.
- LYNCH CONTINUES TO SHOW PROGRESS**
Opposing defenses have brought out the best in Paxton Lynch during the last eight days, and Thursday was no different, as he made some good decisions as to when to escape from traffic and delivered one of his best passes of training camp, a quick strike down the right seam to John Phillips.
Lynch's next pass was intercepted when he missed on a deep post to Bralon Addison, but in the big picture he looked comfortable operating against a defense that doesn't see him every day.
"I'm really impressed with our young quarterback, the way he's practiced the last two days," Kubiak said. "I think he's gotten better. He's getting faster in what he's doing."
- PUNTING COMPETITION REMAINS EVEN**
Just two yards and 0.19 seconds separated Britton Colquitt and Riley Dixon in their average distance and hang time per punt Thursday. Both had two punts of 50 or more yards. Each uncorked a 57-yard blast. Neither had a punt shorter than 46 yards.
"The both of them have been very consistent and both of them have done a good job up to this point," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "It's been a good competition, just like we said through the spring.
"We just want to be consistent going into this game and we'll see."
Holding for Brandon McManus' placekicks will be a factor, too. Colquitt held on his attempts Thursday; a day earlier, rookie Dixon was the holder. Dixon could see more work there Saturday.
"We'll probably have Riley hold a couple of more because he didn't get as many holds as we wanted," DeCamillis said.
It can take some time to get the timing down pat.
"I think it's tough," Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "It's different from kicker to kicker. I've had guys [for whom] it's not that big of a deal and they get it taken care of. I've had guys where it takes a little longer.
"It's an individual thing so we just have to keep working on it and I think that we'll be better with both of them towards the end."
- DOSS A BOSS IN THE SECONDARY**
It's become a surprise when Lorenzo Doss does not intercept a pass in a practice or a game.
"He's getting better and better. He's got a real knack for intercepting the ball," Phillips said.
With a handful of practice interceptions the last two weeks and another in the 22-0 win over the Bears last Thursday, Doss has been at the forefront of a group of young ballhawks that includes safeties Will Parks and Justin Simmons and rookie cornerback John Tidwell, who intercepted a pass Thursday.
"I told him that he's got a rabbit's foot somewhere because he's in the right place," Phillips said.
But when takeaways happen as often as they has for Doss, it's not luck, and his ability to react quickly when the quarterback fires has helped the Broncos gain more confidence in their depth behind their top three cornerbacks.
"Guys that know what they're doing, doing the right things and playing the right techniques aren't lucky; they're in the right place because they're playing well," Phillips said. "He's had a really good camp."
- STILL SHUTTING 'EM DOWN**
Between the Bears game and the five game-condition, 11-on-11 move-the-ball series it had against the 49ers the last two days, the defense still has not allowed a score.
Even with the defensive line's depth sapped by injuries to Vance Walker and Derek Wolfe, the defense still generated interior pressure that combined with solid man-to-man coverage to limit the downfield options of 49ers quarterbacks, forcing them to take scrambles to the sideline or force throws into traffic.
"I feel like we impose our will on everybody," said CB Chris Harris Jr. "Everybody has to deal with us. They deal with our rushers and then they have to come out and deal with our passers. That's what we're going to do. We're going to play smash mouth. We're going to play aggressive. We're going to be a great tackle, fundamental team that plays smart."
And it's a defense with a standard -- a standard Harris expects to see met by the first, second and third teams alike, whether it's a mid-August practice or the Super Bowl.
"There's a standard here as you step on the field as a Broncos' defender. Playing defense here is kind of like the old days with the Ravens and even the old Chicago Bears when they had that type of standard.
"That's our standard here. You come here, that's championship-level defense."
The Broncos finish their 2016 training camp with their second joint-practice with the San Francisco 49ers prior to their preseason game on Saturday. (Photos by Eric Bakke unless otherwise noted)
- THE END OF CAMP ISN'T REALLY AN END**
The regimen of a morning practice, a late-afternoon walkthrough and meetings into the evening ended after Thursday's work, which was the official end of the Broncos' 57th training camp.
But while there will be some game-planning next week in advance of the third preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams, the focus on teaching, improvement and trying to set the roster will continue.
"Training camp isn't over until they make the 53-man roster," Harris said. "Until they make the team, it's not over for the young cats. Other than that, you have to keep grinding."