ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Broncos concluded OTAs on a sun-splashed Thursday morning at Dove Valley, the team took a symbolic step – if only a tiny one – closer to seeing the 2013 NFL season rise up on the horizon.
Coming up on the menu is next week's team minicamp, meaning that the proverbial grill is already beginning to warm up for the start of training camp in late July and an entrée of preseason games in August.
But although players and coaches will get a brief taste of two-a-day practices at next week's minicamp session, Head Coach John Fox and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio both downplayed that anything will be much different other than the formal title of "minicamp."
That's primarily because the team's participation and level of commitment during OTAs has already been so good.
"We've had great participation (in OTAs) —maybe as good or better than anybody in the league," Fox said after Thursday's OTA session. "Very pleased with the guys' focus and participation in what we would call a voluntary workout. I don't expect anything different for the vet minicamp other than a little bit different, we get to practice twice Tuesday, twice Wednesday and once on Thursday."
Del Rio agreed, noting that the team's workload will increase, but that players should already be aptly prepared for everything they'll see in minicamp.
"Have more meetings and a second (practice)—a walk-through in the afternoon, add that to it," Del Rio said. "Installation-wise, we've pretty much thrown everything at them over the first 10 OTAs, so we'll just pick up and really want to just finish with next week's minicamp, finish strong this offseason."
A productive finish would help ensure that the team is at the front of the learning curve for training camp, where practices will hold even greater significance for the team's preparation – and for individual players who will be battling for depth chart positions.
Del Rio noted that the additional practice time of two-a-day sessions will help get players into a training camp mindset roughly a month-and-a-half before the actual camp begins.
"In some respects we'll work on some things that we want to do in camp in that afternoon practice," Del Rio said. "So kind of get an understanding of how we're going to do things and how we can better utilize that time. It's definitely a benefit to have the guys come out and be able to work football a second time in the day."