ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --This is always the most unusual week of the season. There's only two days of practice. Since it's preseason, there's little game-planning. Most starters are expected to sit Thursday, which would mimic Head Coach John Fox's distribution of playing time for this week in his three previous years as Broncos coach.
"I know it's not going to be as big of a group as we usually have going into a preseason game because I'm sure Coach Fox will have a few players sitting down," said Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase.
But one player expected to get a long run at AT&T Stadium is quarterback Brock Osweiler, and that's where this edition of Five Thoughts begins.
- Osweiler's only previous NFL start came in a preseason finale: last year's 32-24 loss to Arizona. He played the entire first half, completing seven of 11 passes for 108 yards and adding 25 yards on four carries. Six of the Broncos' nine first downs came on Osweiler's plays, and he directed an 80-yard touchdown march to open the game.
That's the kind of bounce-back performance Osweiler needs after the offense stalled in the second half against Houston last Saturday. The Broncos were shut out in Osweiler's 30 minutes of work, he threw an interception and saw a last-minute drive go nowhere, although two of his four patches were clear drops.
The starting assignment provides a different dynamic for Osweiler, from the timing of his practice repetitions to game time Thursday.
"Everything about it," Osweiler said. "When you're coming in later in the game you don't necessarily know when you're actually going to go in so you go through the week of practice, then you travel, then you do pre-game warm ups and then you just kind of hit the bench and you get cold and you don't really know when you're going in."
- So far, so good for cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Kayvon Webster. Both have worked extensively during team and one-on-one periods, moving well and showing no apparent effects from their injuries.
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said that Harris is "reaping as though he'll be prepared and able" to play against the Dallas Cowboys. But last week, Harris said that he did not feel the need to play in the preseason to get his feet wet.
Harris had been adding to his workload each week since he passed the six-month post-surgical examination from Dr. James Andrews on July 28. Webster is recovering from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the last two games. The expectation is that both will be ready for the Colts in Week 1.
- The final "move the ball" series of the summer Tuesday ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler to Isaiah Burse for the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense. However, it's likely that the play would have ended in a sack in real time, as the pocket collapsed from the edges.
A strong outside pass rush was the hallmark of the defense during the last two days of work.
- Earlier in practice Tuesday, the offense hit a bit of a rough patch during Tuesday's practice before finding its footing. During one period, six consecutive passes were incomplete. Quality defense was the reason; safety T.J. Ward, David Bruton and Webster all made plays on the football.
- Burse was one of the players to watch last Saturday, and he still has much to prove -- starting with his ability to protect the football, which was not an issue in the last three preseason games but has been troublesome in some practices this summer. During Monday's practice, he dropped three punts. This can't be repeated, and he needs to judge the flight of the football better Thursday, as well.