ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -** After more than seven long months, the satisfying sound of pops and thuds returned to Dove Valley as the Broncos participated in their first padded practice of the 2013 season.
The intensity was turned up a notch from the first two days of training camp, especially with the added excitement of more contact drills, but the team navigated the first practice without any major scuffles.
A large and lively crowd of 3,127 fans was in attendance for Saturday's early practice and many of them participated in stretches from the hill as the Broncos went through their stretching routine.
Tight end Lucas Reed did not participate in Saturday's practice, while tackle Ryan Clady was limited. Guard/center C.J. Davis "tweaked his ankle" during practice and did not return. The Broncos signed tight end Jake O'Connell this morning and he joined practice during the stretching period. He spent most of the practice observing.
UPDATE:The Broncos waived/injured tight end Lucas Reed.
- Free safety Rahim Moore was all over the field today and pulled off an impressive diving interception of Brock Osweiler during one-on-one coverage drills. After the pick, he stood up and pumped up the crowd. He also had a couple other diving break ups during the 11-on-11 portions.
- In the very first play of 11-on-11 work, Ronnie Hillman broke through the right side of the line for a long run, mostly untouched. He broke another long one in a later session.
- In pass rush drills, Hillman stood his ground against defensive back Quentin Jammer, even after Jammer knocked Hillman's helmet off.
- Von Miller, who split time between coverage drills and pass rushing drills when they happened simultaneously, got past Knowshon Moreno with a slick spin move.
- Running back Jeremiah Johnson flashed some impressive speed a couple of times during practice Saturday, once on a stretch play and later on a screen pass from Osweiler. He took the screen pass all the way to the house thanks to some helpful downfield blocking from Tavarres King.
- Peyton Manning connected on his first pass of the day in 11-on-11 drills. After a play action fake, he found a leaping Demaryius Thomas down the side line over Champ Bailey.
- Julius Thomas had another solid day on the practice field with a couple of snazzy catches, including one around David Bruton in one-on-one drills.
- Duke Ihenacho made a nice pick during 11-on-11 action and ran into the crowd to shake hands with some fans.
- Steven Johnson laid a couple of big hits during practice including one on Jeremiah Johnson.
- In the final play of special teams work, Trindon Holliday exploded to take the return all the way back, much to the delight of the crowd.
- Manning was the first player out of the locker room Saturday morning and took the time to sign a few autographs before warming up.
- The wide receivers ran a drill making catches through contact with other receivers using blocking pads. On rookie Lamaar Thomas' turn, he was hit with a flying pad instead of one being held by a teammate causing a chuckle.
- Holliday worked on catching punts by catching a ball out of the JUGS machine and tossing a ball in the air to himself at the same time.
The team will be back on the field this evening for a walkthrough session that is closed to the public. The next practice that's free and open to the public comes tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 10:25 a.m.