This time, when training camp star wide receiver Cody Latimer caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Osweiler, he got the response he was looking for.
A throng of cheers.
"To have everybody cheering your name and have people screaming your name, it's an amazing feeling," Latimer said on Sunday, the first practice the Denver Broncos held in their 2014 training camp that was open to the public. Nearly 22,000 fans filed into Sports Authority Field to see Latimer and other new Broncos in blue and orange for the first time.
"We have some true fans out here," Latimer said.
Those true Broncos fans gave the loudest ovations when Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and Wes Welker left the tunnel at the start of practice. Peyton Manning had snuck onto the field early, before the enormous stadium scoreboard could capture his entrance, in order to sign autographs before practice started.
It was a different element with Broncos fans in attendance. The missing piece to training camp was restored.
"It makes it easier," defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said. "Training camp goes by a little smoother with the fans being involved, so it's always a pleasure to have them around cheering us on."
The Broncos defense continued its dominant trend in training camp in front of the fans Sunday, but there were plenty of big plays by the likes of Montee Ball, Julius Thomas, Greg Wilson, and Isaiah Burse to satiate the fans' desire for virtual points on the scoreboard.
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware was held out of the second half or practice, head coach John Fox said. "Lower leg bruise. Doesn't appear to be serious."
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was again excused for a death in the family. Defensive end Greg Latta (knee), tight end Jameson Konz (undisclosed), tackle Aslam Sterling (undisclosed), and safety John Boyett (back) did not participate. Linebacker Von Miller (knee) and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (hip) were limited.
Just as good as last year's. RT @cubfaninar: How does PM arm strength look?— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
Despite the pressures and seeming domination of the defense, each and every practice, I'm not concerned about Peyton Manning, and I'm buying more and more into Brock Osweiler. Furthermore, it's becoming clear to me that he and Zac Dysert are not on the same level. Osweiler is far, far ahead in terms of accuracy (the most important attribute a quarterback had period), decision-making, and athleticism. While Dysert had a handful of nice throws today, he also had a handful of head-scratchers, including a few knuckleballs that hit the dirt in front of his target and overthrown footballs that sail out of the back of the end zone.
C.J. Anderson runs up the gut for a touchdown. He's looked good today.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
This is a really tight competition, but I'm seeing some positive movement from C.J. Anderson and Brennan Clay, and some negative movement from Kapri Bibbs. Anderson probably looked best today among backups - Montee Ball is clearly the starter and has made a couple of plays that just have me tingling with excitement - while Clay boasted a nice cut to get in the end zone on 7-on-7 work with Dysert at QB.
I was honestly a little surprised by Bibbs' comments today - he said he was "doing amazing" and "opened up a lot of eyes of the coaches." I came into camp probably as excited to scout him as anybody on Denver's roster, but I haven't seen anything I would call eye-opening that separates himself from the thick competition at running back. Particularly in the passing game, I saw Bibbs struggle today. He had a drop and slipped on the field in individual work, then later dropped a pass in team drills. I know a running back's first job isn't to be a pass-catcher, but in this Peyton Manning-led offense, you can't be a hindrance in the passing game. It's still very early, mind you, but Bibbs has got to show me more to make the 53-man roster.
And I won't leave you hanging with vagueness about Ball... I saw him with a nice blitz pickup one play, a nice catch-and-hang-on play as Kayvon Webster came crashing, and several nice runs.
Isaiah Burse with a huge touchdown as a receiver from Zac Dysert to close practice.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
A variety of Broncos wide receivers made big plays today. Cody Latimer had a quiet day by his training camp standards, but did haul in a Brock Osweiler touchdown in 7-on-7 work. He also dropped a beautiful dart from Brock on a slant route that was one of his few disappointing plays in camp so far. Wes Welker showed his toughness in the end zone by beating a smothering Danny Trevathan for a diving touchdown.
But on a day with an hour of red zone work and dozens of touchdowns, the best play by the wide receiver group wasn't a touchdown at all. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell wrested an underthrown Peyton Manning football out of the clutches of Aqib Talib, turning around and breaking for the pass on the 17-yard line. As both men came down to the field, Caldwell came up with the ball, saving the drive and Peyton Manning from an unfortunate turnover. Play of the day.
Two more names to know, both undrafted rookies: Greg WIlson and Isaiah Burse. Wilson was catching everything today, while Burse looked good in both return work and as a receiver, putting an exclamation point on the practice session with the touchdown catch described in the tweet above.
Julius Thomas showing some impressive footwork in red zone work, keeping his feet in-bounds in the end zone.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
Julius Thomas continues to work as the star of this offense with Demaryius Thomas missing. "Twinkle Toes Thomas" was toe-tapping and shoe-stopping all over the end zone on Sunday.
Jacob Tamme and Gerell Robinson each had nice practices, with Tamme getting the better of Rahim Moore on one end zone throw while Robinson had one of the most impressive catches of camp, hauling in a juggling, bobbling ball on his back in one of the early portions of practice. Virgil Green had a nice day blocking and also was able to run into the end zone after a short pass from Manning.
From my vantage point, it was hard to see a lot of the blocking I wanted to. Which is too bad; I was looking forward to scouting this group in pads. I will say that they kept Broncos defenders at bay a little bit better today, but some of that might have been related to DeMarcus Ware's absence.
Kevin Vickerson (limited, hip) said he is 95% healthy and hopes to do more next week.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
Sylvester Williams continues to shine. Today, he boasted another tip of Manning at the L.O.S., with an assist from Derek Wolfe getting around Chris Clark. Defensive tackle Marvin Austin "blew up" Vinston Painter on one play, according to Mr. Andrew Mason sitting next to me.
Lerentee McCray sacks Peyton Manning, AKA grazes his 3-foot "no touching" bubble.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
It wasn't just a sack; it would have been a strip-sack. Terrific play by McCray, who I believed got around Orlando Franklin to make it happen (but didn't get graced with a replay to confirm).
While the Broncos might be in pads, they're still not tackling to the ground, but I still saw impressive angles and domination from the depth of this unit. Steven Johnson and Jordan Sullen combined to stop a charging Bennie Fowler short of the goal line, where Fowler had a full head of steam at the three-yard line. Corey Nelson and Nate Irving each registered a pressure/sack during the practice (I believe Irving had two), while Danny Trevathan had an impressive breakup of a Julius Thomas touchdown in the back of the end zone. Lamin Barrow also had a nice play, shooting the gap to blow up a running play. This unit looks deep, a lot like the next unit on my scouting report...
Bradley Roby with a leaping pass breakup of Julius in the end zone. Next play, T.J. Ward repeats the feat, nearly intercepting Peyton.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
It was Bradley Roby's best practice, which is a relief to say. Roby's pass defense of Julius showed great athleticism and awareness. Roby read Peyton's movements, then just as Peyton threw, turned around and leaped to make a reaching deflection of Manning's dart to Thomas. The execution couldn't have been more impressive. He also didn't get in my notebook for any negative reason, which is the first such practice I have attended.
I'm thoroughly encouraged by this unit overall. Kayvon Webster had a crushing hit on Montee Ball; Omar Bolden continues to be a special teams ace that is improving as a cornerback; Aqib Talib is the real deal.
I read yesterday from Kirk and Mason the difference T.J. Ward will make on this defense; today, I saw it with my own eyes. The man knows how to read a play, and he is able to translate that mental mastery into physical power. He can intimidate a running back in both mind and body, and today he had the best play among his group in coverage too. So far this looks like a terrific signing by John Elway.
The rest of the safety group had a rough practice, with David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho being out of place at times, while Rahim Moore got beaten in coverage a few times.
The lighter side
As my good friend Andrew Mason put it, Peyton Manning's first job title is "Dad."
Cue the aaawwwwws. Here's Peyton Manning playing with his kids after practice. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/YIOC5hSHKX— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) July 27, 2014
"As the days go by, I’m getting more familiar with this offense and with this team. Everything is going really smooth. Of course, [QB] Peyton [Manning] has been really good about staying after practice and working with all of us guys. I don’t really have a choice but to be the best that I can be." - Emmanuel Sanders
That's it for me for Broncos training camp... I can't thank the Broncos and Broncos PR enough for giving me this, my fifth opportunity to cover training camp. Short but sweet this year - I wish I was staying another week like last year! I'm thrilled Kirk (and at times, Casey) will be filling us in the rest of the way out so Mile High Report continues to have first-hand training camp coverage.
The Broncos have one more day of workouts before their first day off. Closed practice is at 8:50-11:30 a.m. with a walkthrough scheduled for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Mile High Report's Kaptain Kirk will be there!