ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The first-team secondary was back to work after a rest day Wednesday, and it showed in a dominant performance during Thursday's practice.
"Our secondary today had a tremendous practice, I thought," said Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
As is Head Coach Gary Kubiak's custom, select starters receive days off during offseason work. Wednesday, that group included cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. and safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward. The quartet was back Thursday -- and in playmaking mode.
The Broncos continued the second week of OTAs on Wednesday at the UCHealth Training Center.(Photos by Ben Swanson)
... The seven-on-seven period of practice began with the defense forcing four consecutive incompletions. Three of them were caused by blanket coverage, with Corey Nelson and Shane Ray staying step-for-step with the intended targets on two of the plays.
... In the next seven-on-seven period, Harris nearly had an interception on a quick slant from Paxton Lynch, but couldn't complete the catch.
... If Justin Simmons can earn the nickname "Wreck," then you might have something with the "Parks and Wreck" safety combination from this year's draft. The two are roommates at the hotel where out-of-town players are staying during OTAs, study together each night and finished Thursday's practice with an interception apiece.
Parks began their thefts by jumping in front of a pass for Henry Krieger-Coble in the right flat during a two-minute drill period. Parks read the intent of the play perfectly and was gone for what would have been a touchdown in a game. Parks almost had another interception earlier in a seven-on-seven period, when he lunged for a pass and prevented Cody Latimer from making a reception.
Simmons got his pickoff late in practice when he pounced on an off-target throw toward Krieger-Coble. He subsequently dodged players and coaches as he raced for the south end zone.
"These guys are focused on knowing what to do, and they're doing that really well," Phillips said. "Then on the field, they're starting to pick things up."
... Safety Brandian Ross nearly intercepted a pass in the team period; he perfectly anticipated a Siemian-to-Krieger-Coble attempt in the left flat and got his hands on the football at the goal line.
... Cornerback Bradley Roby prevented a potential touchdown with a perfect read on an attempt from Mark Sanchez to Bennie Fowler; Roby lunged after the football to prevent a potential touchdown during a team red-zone period.
... This was the fourth consecutive practice in which the defense intercepted two passes.
... Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar wants to see his linemen get their hands up to try and deflect passes, and his group succeeded at that Thursday, with two deflections at the line of scrimmage. One one pass, Phil Taylor and Calvin Heurtelou each got their hands up to deflect a pass; on the other, David Moala deflected a Lynch throw near the end of practice.
... Four plays after breaking up that pass, Moala generated pressure on Lynch as he looked for Durron Neal deep up the left sideline. Koala made a quick move inside of fellow rookie Connor McGovern to force Lynch to throw a split-second before he would have preferred.
... Rookie DE Shaneil Jenkins was also disruptive. During a six-play span late in practice, he burst into the backfield to get in Lynch's face twice for plays that would have been at least logged as quarterback hurries in game conditions.
... Fellow rookie OLB Eddie Yarbrough forced a Sanchez incompletion with a quick burst off the edge, forcing an attempt to Garrett Graham that Ward broke up in the back of the end zone. Yarbrough also forced another incompletion from Lynch when he raced past rookie offensive tackle Justin Murray earlier in the period.
... OLB Shaquil Barrett's work off the edge resulted in two pressures, including one where he worked his way around Donald Stephenson to force an incomplete Sanchez pass to the left side.
.... Graham had several solid receptions from the quarterbacks as he continued to see extensive work while Virgil Green (finger) and Jeff Heuerman (sore hamstring) recover from their injuries.
... WR Cody Latimer used an outstanding route to shake free of B.J. Lowery for a touchdown from Siemian during a red-zone period.
... There were plenty of holes for the running backs. Ronnie Hillman ripped off a nice run through a sliver of daylight, and Kapri Bibbs had a handful of strong runs fueled by quick cutbacks and acceleration to the holes as they developed.
... Although the day was rough for the Broncos' passing offense, Lynch closed it out with one of his best throws so far during OTAs, a perfectly placed touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor.
Working against Lowery deep up the right sideline near the goal line, Taylor managed to get a sliver of separation. That was enough for Lynch to uncork a long pass that Taylor grabbed near the sideline, just managing to keep his feet inbounds for the score.
... The Broncos' next practice will be Tuesday, which is the start of the team's mandatory three-day minicamp. Any player with a signed contract who is not at minicamp and has an unexcused absence is subject to daily fines, per league policy.