This was the second day that NFL officials joined the three locally-based officials on hand for every practice, and when the wide receivers, tight ends, cornerbacks and safeties began facing each other, flags flew at a dizzying clip.
A day earlier, back judge Scott Helverson, umpire Rich Hall, head linesman Wayne Mackie and side judge Keith Washington explained to media the new emphasis on illegal contact and offensive pass interference. Friday, those standards went into practice.
The WR/CB drills are exactly why the officials are here. CBs can learn what will & will not be called. Better now than in the games.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 1, 2014
At one point, officials tossed multiple flags as cornerback
"Yeah, we're just giving them a hard time. It's all in fun, man," said Talib. "The one-on-one drill, it's an offensive drill. We're just giving them a hard time. Just making practice fun. That's all."
During the period, flags flew on several plays, including two of three passes at one point.
"Today they were a little trigger happy, they were calling too many flags, but it’s part of the game," safety
Most important is that the Broncos learn to adjust -- which usually is constant, given how rules tweaks are absorbed into general game play, and the fact that not every official sees illegal contact the same way.
"I think they will be a little more ticky-tack with it earlier in preseason. (That) has been my experience," said Head Coach John Fox. "Then they will kind of regulate it back to some kind of normalcy."
Added Talib: "They always talk about it, but once it's September, and the real games start, it'll probably be regular.
"It'll probably go through preseason and die out. It doesn't matter. It is what it is. We're just going to come out here and play football."
And from playing -- or at least practicing -- Friday, five things stood out.
But it was his work in the pass rush that was the best sign of his progress. On one of his repetitions, he burst around the right flank and forced pressure on Manning, forcing an incompletion.
Miller is lighter and sleeker, even with a bulky brace on his right knee.
"I can't really put a percentage on it. I mean, I feel good," he said.
The knee is not my issue when I'm out there. It's just getting back into the mix, connecting the mind with the body. … and getting that reaction time down."
Miller's quickness off the snap and his acceleration into the backfield around the blockers set him apart two years ago. He's not back to that point yet, but the glimpses of brilliance -- like in that instance Friday morning -- offer the Broncos hope that he'll get there.
2. A rookie steps up:
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) August 1, 2014
Lamin Barrowis improving daily. Doing a much better job of filling gaps, reading the blockers setting up a run.
The competition at middle linebacker is one of the most fascinating of training camp. The first opportunity on the No. 1 defense went to
"He’s getting better every day," said Del Rio. "If you looked at the first day of practice and you looked at today, you’d go ‘Wow, doesn’t even look like the same guy.’ He’s progressing, and we just have to see how far we can bring him."
The Broncos drafted Barrow hoping he could push at middle linebacker. So far, so good.
3. At times,
Roby has looked quicker the last couple of days, as though the NFL game is starting to slow down for him. His reaction time is quicker, and he's trusting himself enough to be more aggressive at the line of scrimmage, which plays into his strengths.
4. Sanders did make plays against Roby and other cornerbacks, and had perhaps the single best play of the day, running a deep out pattern and hauling in a perfectly placed pass near the left sideline inside the 5-yard-line, beating
There was little that Webster could have done to prevent the play. He had tight coverage, giving Sanders little separation. He was using the sideline as another defender. It was simply a gorgeous throw and an outstanding, lunging catch for Sanders, who was active Friday.
The team-period play revealed Sullen's adaptability. Sullen read the arc of Dysert's pass, which was slightly underthrown and had too much air on it. Sullen was moving stride for stride with Burse, but he adjusted his read on the football and prevented the long completion.
The play of defensive backs like Sullen only underscores a dominant theme of camp: the Broncos' above-average depth. The Broncos can only keep 61 players between the primary roster and the practice squad, but more than that should have a place somewhere in the league this year.
"It's only going to make us better as individuals and as a unit," said safety
"Nobody in our secondary should be feared that they won’t have a job next year. Everybody is a great player, everybody has the potential to do something no matter where they land."