ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Although the Broncos strapped on their helmets and pads for a Wednesday practice session at Dove Valley, there was still plenty of time for players to spend Christmas morning with those who truly mean the most – their families and friends.
While the Broncos were splashed in golden afternoon sunshine on the practice field instead of working out during their customary morning time slot, it also meant that players were able to unwrap gifts and spend time with their loved ones on Christmas morning.
"We came in three hours later – usually we're in here at 7:20 a.m.," Head Coach John Fox said. "We brought them in at 10:20 a.m. Guys with young kids and families had a chance to have Christmas morning if they choose to be with their families."
Fox also noted that the Christmas schedule also allowed for players to return home to their families in time for their holiday dinners.
"We'll get them out of here right now, after practice – we won't have afternoon meetings so they can go home and have Christmas meals with their families, as well," he said.
Still, it meant that players were in at Dove Valley for a day of work on the practice field. And, as quarterback Peyton Manning noted, maintaining focus on football during the holidays is always a difficult task for teams throughout the NFL.
"I think it's always a challenge for all teams. Thanksgiving, Christmas – there is a fine balance between trying to have a good practice and manage the schedule adjustments and whatnot," Manning said. "I think we have the right kind of guys to do it. But you can't just talk about it, you've got to do it. It really doesn't get reflected, I think, until game day."
Still, Manning was quick to note that Wednesday's practice session was a productive one for the Broncos – and that Fox spread a little holiday cheer to help ensure the team's focus.
"But I thought today was a good practice for Christmas Day – Coach Fox gave us a nice gift with full pads," Manning said to a chorus of laughter. "I think we've been pretty good, too. So I guess that was our present and I thought guys responded pretty well."
And for Manning, the true meaning of Christmas was still intact.
"I think you always have an appreciation for this day," Manning said. "It's a special day, Christmas Morning is, and it's no question it's special – this morning, having the little ones running around. But it's always been special."