ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The helmets went back on, and the Broncos were back at work Thursday -- with one key player catching the eye of teammates: quarterback Trevor Siemian.
"I'll tell you what: Today was one of the best practices I've seen him have, in terms of the ball, when it was coming, how it was spinning today, and how accurate he was, and the height of the ball," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "He's getting better and better."
And he's a perfect fit in a locker room where the focus is where it should be -- on the job at hand. That's where Thursday's wrap begins.
- "IT'S 100 PERCENT FOOTBALL"**
Outside linebacker Von Miller won the AFC Defensive Player of the Month on Thursday morning, but to him, the honor is a product of what the team is doing -- and how it is different.
"It's something special that's going on with this team right now, and it's great to be a part of it," Miller said. "The locker room is the core of it. We've got great leadership here. When we come out here to work, when we come out here to practice, we really practice."
And the focus on football doesn't stop when practice adjourns.
"It's the attitude that we have: It's 100 percent football," Miller said. "When we come to work, we talk about football. If it's not about me talking about the pass rush, I'm talking about the secondary, I'm talking about coverage, and I'm talking to [Demaryius Thomas] on, 'What are you looking at right there on that post route?' I'm trying to put myself in his shoes. The same thing with Trevor, when Trevor throws a great pass in practice -- it's just all football here."
Other teams can say that. But in Miller's mind, the Broncos show it, and live it.
"We go home and talk about football," Miller said. "I was watching the Rodney Harrison A Football Life [episode] last night. Me and T.J. [Ward] were talking about his hits, and his mentality. We were like, 'Man, we need to start doing this.' It was just always football, and the type of friendship that we have, it's all football. And that's where we get our success from."
- NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A "DIVA"**
Whenever a wide receiver offers public comments about wanting the football more, pundit and fan assertions that the receiver is a "diva" inevitably follow.
To which Sanders shrugs.
"I don't mind being a diva. I am a diva," he said, elicting laughter from the media. "Hey, I am a diva. I like winning ballgames. I like catching passes. Every wide receiver in the world likes to catch passes. Every wide receiver in the world likes to put up points."
The comments of Sanders and Thomas last week drew media attention, although Kubiak didn't take offense, saying that he wanted players who were frustrated when they didn't have the opportunity to make plays.
"In that locker room, everybody knows our personalities. Everybody knows my personality, Demaryius' personality," Sanders said. "Everybody knows that we're going to work our butt off, and at the end of the day, that was just one week. But we've got 16 weeks, and everybody's invested in the best for this team, and that's what this is about."
And that team features different personalities -- and different kinds of divas. Sanders says the first diva-like football player he admired was Deion Sanders. He also says that Thomas is a diva, too.
"He's like a country diva, though," Sanders said. "I'm like a Hollywood diva."
Said Thomas: "I'm from the country. I drive a Ford Raptor. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
"Our diva is Emmanuel, of course," Thomas added a few minutes later. "That's the diva on our team."
- "DIVAS" WHO WORK**
Whatever label you put on Sanders and Thomas must include "worker." The diligence of both has caught the attention of their coaches in the last year.
"Those guys work their tails off in practice. They hang out, when I see them anyway," said Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison. "They compete, they compete with the DBs, and I think they do compete with each other ... I'm glad we've got them."
Their bond actually began long before they were Broncos, when they were two members of a deep 2010 draft class at wide receiver.
"We came up together when we got drafted," Thomas said. "We kind of knew each other then and once he came here we just clicked like brothers, like friends. We push each other every week to try to see who can be better just to try to be the best that does it."
Of course, one area that Thomas has Sanders beat is in size. Thomas is four inches taller and 49 pounds heavier, so if they collide in celebration, Sanders will get knocked off-balance, as was the case last week.
"I can't help that he weighs a buck-70. He's the one who wanted to do it," Thomas said. "He pointed up in the sky, I'm like, 'I'm winded.' I was thinking in my head, he's going to try to out-jump me. So I'm not going to let him out jump-me. So I jumped as hard as I can -- I [didn't] jump as hard as I can, I jumped hard enough that he wouldn't out-jump me."
- "THE SKY'S THE LIMIT"**
To look back at the Broncos' first three games is to see almost every aspect of the offense working perfectly at some point.
The deep and play-action passing game last week. Pass protection, intermediate passing and the bubble screen against Indianapolis. The ground and screen-pass game against Carolina.
What happens if everything comes together at once?
"I think it can be dangerous," Sanders said. "All the articles last week said that me and Demaryius were frustrated. Obviously, because we know the potential of this offense. We know that we can have a balanced attack, that we can go out and throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, and we can also run the ball, too, or we can rush for 150 yards. Obviously, all that comes with preparation out on the field, executing at a high level and maximizing our potential.
"And I think our potential -- the sky's the limit for this offense, for this defense and this team, as long as we go out and work."
- THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO TO ADAPT TO THE HEAT**
If Kubiak could utilize a liberal rotation at multiple positions to keep his players fresh in the oppressive heat and humidity that will greet the players when they step into Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, he would.
But there is only so much he can do given the constraints of the game-day active roster, as he noted when he was asked about the potential of using more rotations against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"I'd love to tell you, 'Yes,' but you get 46 guys," Kubiak said. "There are some positions where, if you suit up so many [defensive backs], and they go three-wide and four-wide the whole game, those guys are going to play 70 plays."
Sanders, for one, knows all about these kinds of conditions, having grown up near Houston, where he still maintains a home.
"I don't know if you can ever prepare for heat," he said. "You've just got to get your mind right.
"I want to go out there and win, so the will of winning has to overcome all elements, whether it's rain, sleet, snow, hot, cold, the will to win has to overcome that. And I think from a mental standpoint, this team is right there."
The Broncos continue their on-field practice preparation for the Buccaneers. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)