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Broncos are ready for live bullets

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Thursday against the Bears can’t get here fast enough for Denver’s offense, defense and coaches.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The itch has become a full-fledged rash. The first week of training camp helped mask it, but it’s now an uncontrollable outbreak.

The time has come for the Denver Broncos to hit a different opponent. To see someone else on the other side of the line scrimmage. At this point, it’s safe to say the fans and media want that as well.

Thursday night against the Chicago Bears can’t get here fast enough.

“I think everyone is excited,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Saturday’s practice. “You kind of practice to play the games. Even though it’s preseason, you get a chance to get a fair evaluation of the players. That’s a live-like environment. It’s not controlled. You want to see how guys react when they’re tired, when they’re hurt and obviously against a different opponent. I’m excited about Thursday to see how the young guys go out and play football so we can find out the best guys for our football team.”

For the offense, namely Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, it finally gets to play against a secondary that’s not the No Fly Zone. The offensive line won’t have to attempt to block Von Miller. Basically, the Broncos offense finally gets a break from one of the best defenses in the NFL.

“Very (excited),” Lynch said. “This defense has been getting after us day in and day out but we’ve had good practices on the offensive side of the ball, too. I think it makes everybody better when you go against the best defense in the league day in and day out — the pass rushes, cornerbacks and linebackers. It’s definitely helped me to progress my game, but I’m excited to get out there and be able to run around a little bit and go against a different defense.”

Added Siemian: “I think it’ll be good. I think at this point in camp you’re going back and forth so much. You’re trying to get your own defense figured out and they’re trying to figure you out. It’ll be good to go against some new faces for sure, I think.”

The offense isn’t alone in its excitement. Denver’s defense is ready to hit for real come Thursday as well. Though as Joseph said on Saturday, one member of the No Fly Zone won’t play against the Bears. Safety T.J. Ward will be kept out with his minor hamstring injury. What will be the most intriguing aspect to watch from the defense is how it does against the run. That will tell the story of this unit and how successful it is in 2017.

“I can't wait to hit somebody else,” Chris Harris Jr. said. “I'm tired of going against (Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas) ‘E’ and ‘D.T.,’ and I'm pretty sure they're tired of going against us. It's at that time where you're ready to see some other receivers and get ready for the season. I think we've got four more weeks, five weeks to get ready for San Diego. You just try to work every day, try to get better and try to get in better shape every day. I'm ready to be at my best come Monday Night.”

The itch has turned into an uncontrollable rash for this team. The Broncos need to smash helmets and pads with a different opponent. Thursday in Chicago serves as the first treatment.

“I actually like going against them, they make me better,” Thomas said of the No Fly Zone. “But it’ll be something good to do. It’ll be different, especially for the younger guys, to see who is ready to go. It’ll be good for Garett (Bolles) and the other guys. I’m excited about that.”