ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – During team drills on Wednesday, Texans tackle Keith Browner tipped a pass from Zac Dysert at the line of scrimmage. Broncos rookie offensive lineman Michael Schofield didn't see the ball get tipped, but he heard it slap Browner's hand and was determined to come away with it.
Schofield didn't see the ball until the last second, but it fell just before him. He scooped it up and cradled it, and without hesitation, he started running.
"I caught it and I took a couple steps and I got hit pretty hard," Schofield said. "I haven't gotten hit like that in a while. So that was pretty fun."
For a split second he thought taking it in for the score was a possibility. Then reality set in.
"I saw like three guys coming in on me and I thought 'This is not going to happen,'" Schofield said.
After a few steps, Texans linebacker Chris Young got to Schofield and hit him. He hit him hard. While Schofield's shoulder was still a bit sore on Thursday, he called the play "memorable." During a game while he was at Michigan, he came close to making a similar play but dove and missed the ball.
Take a look at the best pictures from the Broncos' and Texans' final joint practice.
Perhaps Schofield's confidence in scooping up the ball comes from his tight end days. As a freshman at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Ill., Schofield played tight end. He was a goal line specialist with seven catches for seven touchdowns.
"I was pretty consistent," he said, laughing.
After his freshman year, one of the offensive linemen on his team didn't come back and, as the best blocking tight end, his coach moved him to offensive tackle.
"It worked out," Schofield said. "It got me here so I'm not mad about it."
He often thinks about his tight end days and, occasionally, he misses it.
"I like what I'm doing now but if they ever need an extra tight end, I'd be okay with that," Schofield said.
At Michigan, Schofield started 10 games at left guard in 2011 to go with 26 starts at right tackle in 2012 and 2013 combined.
Hard hits have dashed the fields in intense practices at Dove Valley this week, including the lick Schofield took. He said the intensity at Michigan practices was comparable to the energy of the past few days. While his aching shoulder is proof of the physical practices this week, he's loved it and said "we're playing like it's a game out there."
"I would say these are the most fun practices I've had in a while because it's a change of pace going against different guys, doing different things, so it's been fun," Schofield said.
Even veteran tackle Ryan Clady has noticed Schofield's progress.
"He's doing good," Clady said. "He's definitely developing. [It's] night and day from OTAs. He's definitely honed in and got the offense down and working on his technique. I think he's a good shot to make the team."
The last time Schofield scored a touchdown was freshman year of high school. While he has realistic goals of his chances of making it in the end zone this year, he is enjoying his time on the Broncos and learning as much as he can, especially during this week's joint practices.
As a rookie, he said these practices with the Texans have been especially beneficial.
"Their defensive scheme is totally different than ours so I get to learn that," Schofield said. "We're going to be going against some offenses this week and throughout the season we'll be going against different defenses so it will be nice going back to this time."