If there were ever a sign that it's time to get on to playing games and going against players besides your own, it's that two of the nicest guys on the Broncos went at it today in practice - Emmanuel "I never stop smiling" Sanders and Chris "I'm the best damn corner in the NFL but I'm not going to talk about it" Harris Jr.
But both Sanders and Harris - as well as their coach - said everything was fine. No harm, no foul.
"They're just tired of going at each other," coach Gary Kubiak said after practice. "We have to keep our composure. Guys are going to get upset and battle each other, but there are some things that they won't let you do on the field, so we can't do those at practice either."
Emmanuel Sanders came over to the cornerbacks and apologized to Chris Harris. Looked like Aqib Talib brokered the deal. They're good.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 15, 2016
The situation erupted after a second pass interference from Harris Jr. that was probably caused by the No Fly Zone getting beat a couple times in the end zone - an unfamiliar place for that group.
T.J. Ward and Bradley Roby were among several defensive players who jumped in immediately to break up a fight that got heated fast when both players threw off their helmets.
"It was just a competitive practice," Roby said. "Coach Kube' got after those guys because last practice we basically shut them out. We knew they were going to come out a little more focused and chippy. Those things happen. We're playing a physical sport. There's a lot of testosterone, a lot of grown men out there banging. Of course those things are going to happen."
#Broncos CB Chris Harris said all is well after practice scrap with Emmanuel Sanders: "We’re good, man. That’s definitely my brother."— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 15, 2016
Thankfully in another day the Broncos will get to apply that testosterone to different team - the San Francisco 49ers, who come to the Mile High City for practices Wednesday and Thursday before playing the Broncos Saturday night for the second preseason game.
"We had a good edge today," Kubiak said, noting a lot of big plays during the first hour. "We just had a good competitive edge to us. It's something that we have to find all the time. It was a good practice. We're tired of practicing against each other."
Virgil Green noted that today's competitive practice was a welcomed one especially after Saturday's very lackluster one.
"When you have a practice like on Saturday, you definitely want to come back out and establish yourself as being very competitive," Green said. "We just competed and treated it like a game today."
Green added that practice is not getting "frustrating" because fine-tuning the details and getting rid of the mistakes is exactly what preseason is for. And playing against the Broncos' defense every day is only going to be good in the long run.
"This is hands down the best defense that you're going to see in the league every day," the tight end said. "It's great for us on offense. You're not going to see too many defenses out there that are as prolific as the guys that we have."
The Broncos defense will just be looking for its next victim when they square off against the Niners on Saturday. Sylvester Williams said it's always nice to "hit somebody different."
"You want to be able to go out there and compete against somebody different because you get to take your game and really see where you're at," said Williams. "When you run against the same person every day, you get used to that person. It's good to go against another team and other players so we can get a different feel for our team, our defense, our offense, special teams - everything."
Practicing with the Niners offense two different days in pads before the game on Saturday will be like "getting the answers the day before the test," according to Roby.
"It's easier for me because I get to go against those receivers. I can get familiar with their concepts," he said. "I can't say if it's easier for them."
But Roby knows the main purpose of the joint practices are for coaches to see young players compete - and he expects that to be exactly what happens this week.
They want to see who is going to step out there and handle their own...It's good work," Roby added.
But the third-year corner plans to have a little fun out there too with some of his fellow teammates from the Buckeyes.
"It's cool. Carlos Hyde is over there. He's another Ohio State guy, so I'll be talking trash to him a lot," Roby promised. "I just want to keep in to it, keep it focused and keep it light."
Whatever it is, Kubiak hopes it is telling. This week and this game are important ones for the coach to make some big decisions soon.
"I have so many questions that we can answer on the team," Kubiak said, noting that he gets a lot answered in practice but this week will be an important one for answering others. "We had a very competitive practice today. We're going to have two against the 49ers, and then we're going to play them on Saturday. You're getting to a point where you should start to answer those things."
Among those questions is running back. Despite coming into camp No. 2 on the depth chart, Ronnie Hillman is "in a hell of a battle" with rookie Devontae Booker and former practice squad player Kapri Bibbs.
"Ronnie is in a battle. There's no way around that. I'm just being honest with you," Kubiak said, adding that special teams will be important. "Ronnie is going to play a lot this week and he's going to play some special teams, so it's a very competitive situation."
Which is going to make for some very interesting upcoming days at camp.