DENVER -- In the upcoming season, Kayvon Webster may not see a more daunting challenge than the one he faces on a daily basis in training camp. His task will only get more difficult as Demaryius Thomas returns to full-contact, full-pad work. But on Wednesday and on many other days, Wes Welker was more than enough to keep him busy.
Against Welker, you can do everything right in coverage and still get beaten. But after containing Welker throughout the day, Webster pounced near the end of practice, jumping a route, intercepting a Peyton Manning pass and returning it for a touchdown to squelch the offense's drive in a two-minute drill period.
"I was just doing my job, just doing the coverage that they asked me to do," Webster said. "My guy was targeted. I had to make the play."
Fellow cornerback Aqib Talib admits that Webster knows the defense "probably better than me." He's been impressed with Webster's work throughout the offseason and at training camp.
"Every day, I check him out on film," Talib said. "I look at myself, and then I go out and look at him. He definitely looks comfortable."
Webster looks to Talib and Chris Harris Jr. for advice. But he still seeks out Champ Bailey, now with the New Orleans Saints. Webster grew up idolizing his former teammate, and said he went to Bailey's wedding earlier this month and still asks him for tips whenever he can.
"He always told me to be ready, and to go in and make plays when my number's called," Webster said. "That's my mentor now."
Bailey would be proud of Webster, who also had a sack during the two-hour practice. It was a day that brought all of his work together: his time on the first team during organized team activities and training camp, and the study of his game film from last year. The result is a steady cornerback who looks ready for a heavy workload.
"I'm more into the playbook. I'm not a rookie anymore," Webster said. "I'm just relaxed out there, and I'm taking advantage of the coaches putting me in."
He wasn't the only Bronco to have a standout day in front of 9,207 drenched fans.
- Although DeMarcus Ware continues to recuperate following a leg bruise, the pass rush delivered some stellar moments Wednesday -- including one that set up Webster's big moment:
1-vs.-1 in the 2-minute drill ends in an INT of Manning by Kayvon Webster. Pressure from Q.Smith helped cause it. Webster goes to the house. — Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 30, 2014
Webster's two-minute-drill interception came after Quanterus Smith burst between two blockers to mount pressure, which was enough to force a throw that was just a split-second too early, allowing Webster to pounce. Backup Kenny Anunike also recorded multiple pressures against the second-team offensive line, continuing his standout play of recent days.
But most of the disruption came from the defensive tackles. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio shuffled his combinations Wednesday, and with good reason; he likes to substitute his tackles to keep them fresh. The results included sacks for Kevin Vickerson and Sylvester Williams. Williams' sack of Manning illustrated why he was a first-round pick last year; he read the snap perfectly and pounced, blowing through the A-gap.
- It's not whether you fall, but how you get back up, as the cliché goes, and running back Montee Ball had a chance to show the resilience you want to see during the one-on-one blocking period early in practice.
Check out the best shots from a rainy practice at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
As was the case in earlier practices, Ball intentionally lined up against starting linebackers, facing Danny Trevathan and Nate Irving. At first, Ball struggled to contain both. He allowed each to get a sack of the tackling dummy placed down at the quarterback's spot. Against Trevathan, he lost his balance after taking a shove from the linebacker, who quickly sprinted past him. But the next time Ball was up, he faced another starter, Nate Irving, and held up better. He got set, kept his balance and held his ground.
"The one drill that we do, it's to make me better," said Ball. "I keep going against the best linebackers that we have. I understand that it's going to make me a better player. It's very important to our offense."
Ball has fared better when asked to block in the team periods, which offer a different dynamic; with offensive linemen in place and more traffic, identification of the blitz and positioning is as important as actual blocking. His improvement in this area is massive relative to this point in 2013, and helps solidify his place atop the depth chart.
- T.J. Ward's hits and aggression have earned notice, and his willingness to creep into the box and make quick plays against the run and in the pass rush -- while having the ability to drop back into coverage -- could keep quarterbacks guessing throughout the year. Wednesday, his aggression resulted in a sack coming around the right flank of the offensive line.
But Ward's impact on Rahim Moore will also bear monitoring. Moore can watch for the pass and attack -- and this could put him in position for some jarring plays of his own.
Rahim Moore would have completely blown up Wes Welker if he had not held back. Ended with a catch, but in a real game -- perhaps not. — Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 30, 2014
Moore slammed on the brakes just as the football arrived. In another situation, the receiver would have likely dealt with the simultaneous arrival of Moore and the football. In a practice, there was no harm, just a reminder of Moore's capability as a hitter.
- Demaryius Thomas' return to full work is imminent, but Cody Latimer continues to show that he already has first-team talent. In arguably the best passing play for the offense Wednesday, Latimer used a double move to get past Bradley Roby up the left sideline, and then caught a pass from Manning, beating Roby and Moore.
- It only takes one major injury to mar an otherwise stellar camp. That's why the Broncos breathed a sigh of relief that they came through Wednesday's wet conditions with just one injury: a strained groin suffered by cornerback Louis Young.
The Broncos can't be blamed for practicing through the rain; 9,207 had gathered and sat through everything from drizzle to downpour. They deserved a show, and they got it with a spirited session. Whether the Broncos practice outside on a day like this in future years when they're scheduled to work at Dove Valley and have the indoor facility at their disposal -- well, that's to be determined.
"It is hard to go with 'what if's,'" Head Coach John Fox said. "I know there will be a lot less headaches in the morning making decisions when we have that facility."