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Broncos' offense improves, defense dominates in second joint practice with 49ers

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Kubiak called Thursday's joint practice with the 49ers "very good" for both teams.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Day Two of the joint session between the Broncos and 49ers was another rousing success, producing even better work than the first day despite practicing without pads, according to head coach Gary Kubiak.

"We got great work against each other," Kubiak said Thursday. "We had speed and went through a lot of situations, but I thought it was very, very good for both football teams."

Even The Duke weighed in on what he considered a very productive couple of days for his franchise.

"I thought they went great," GM John Elway said. "We didn't have the scraps that we thought we would have. I think everybody stayed within themselves and concentrated. I think it was great work."

Elway added that he always liked the joint practices as a player because it kept the work from getting stale.

"I think the concentration level goes up, you get different looks," he said. "When you practice against your own defense all the time, they have a tendency to know exactly what you're doing. You get a more realistic look from the quarterbacks' point of view. It raises the level of practice."

Offense makes strides

And it appeared that the second day already saw improvement by the Broncos offense (while the defense continued its dominating ways, but more on that awesomeness later).

Andrew Mason reported Thursday that Peyton Manning took his time getting in sync during another end-of-practice two-minute drill, but after three incompletes, the quarterback hit Demaryius Thomas with a 27-yarder on 4th and 10 before making four of his last five throws in the series. Two connected with DT, including a touchdown pass while another hit Andre Caldwell, and Cody Latimer snagged a 31-yard catch.

That big catch by Latimer represents what Kubiak is looking to see out of his second-year receiver.

"You just want to see him making plays. He's a hard worker. He does the right thing. He's in the right place, but it's time for him to start making plays on the ball, coming up with big plays," Kubiak said Thursday. "Everything's in place for Cody to grow up and have a big year. I like the way he works. [He] just needs to keep coming."

We're not going to be kicking on all cylinders. It's a work in progress for this offense. The goal is to come out and play well and build on that.  -John Elway on the growing pains of the Broncos' offense

Elway noted that while the Broncos offense is certainly going to have its share of growing pains with young players and a new coaching staff, he's confident Manning and the offense will hit their stride - though, hopefully sooner rather than later, he admitted.

"We're not going to be kicking on all cylinders. We'd like to, but we know it's a work in progress for this offense," said a very realistic-minded Elway.

But the competitive-minded Elway added that the Broncos still hope to come out fast against Baltimore in the season opener.

"The goal is always to come out and play well and continue to build off that as the year goes through," he said. "There are going to be some growing pains early in the year. You just hope that it doesn't affect you enough where it costs you any football games."

One of the main keys to that is something the GM reiterated that has been said 100 times since January - Manning. Needs. Rest (even if the 18-year veteran quarterback isn't particularly fond of said rest).

"Maybe it's not what he's used to, but I just think at 39 years old, he can't work like he used to work. He's got to be able to say that," said Elway, who finished his career at age 38. "Even though he may not be as far along as he wants to be right now because he hasn't had that work, he'll be much farther along in December by taking this time off when he's really going to need it."

As for Manning's performance right now?

Well, he's still showing the kids how it's done.

Australian rugby-star-turned-NFL-running back was as impressed with how well Manning could read the defense as throw the ball.

"I watched one of his passes, and just the finesse on it was unbelievable. And the way he can read a defense," Hayne said to Broncos.com. "It's been great just being in his presence. I think he'll go down as one of the greatest of all time."

Adding Evan Mathis to the offensive line is obviously a move to ensure Manning's year is as good as can be, but both Elway and Kubiak emphasized his addition is no indictment on rookie Max Garcia.

"Max has got a tremendous career ahead of him. This had nothing to do with the way Max was playing. It was just more of we thought we needed a little bit more experience up there," Elway said Thursday, adding that Mathis will aid in Garcia's ascension. "I think with Evan there, he'll play great, but it will make us better on the offensive line with more experience. It'll be great for those young guys to learn from him."

Defense continues to bring it

When it was time for the Broncos defense to take the field during 49ers' the two-minute drill, Mason reported it was business as usual:

"The defense dominated all day, so its success in the two-minute period was expected. Pressure from DeMarcus Ware opened the series with an incompletion, and a tip by Brandon Marshall sent the football into Darian Stewart's grasp -- although he invited unnecessary risk by returning the football instead of taking a knee. Stewart fumbled on the return, but Malik Jackson recovered."

After the joint session, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips lauded 49ers' QB Colin Kaepernick.

"You can't help but notice his speed. The guy is a real athlete. A quarterback that can run like that can hurt you at any time," Phillips said. "He's an impressive guy."

But Phillips is confident in the group he's got going after Kap and Co.

"I'm pleased with our safeties overall," he said, pointing out three guys who can play strong safety alongside T.J. Ward - Darian Stewart, Omar Bolden and David Bruton, Jr. "We have three guys that make plays. That's a pretty strong group."

And then, of course, there are the linebackers - a position group Phillips has called among the deepest he's coached anywhere.

After Marshall's impressive return to the field in last week's preseason game, the inside linebacker will finally get to work in tandem with Danny Trevathan, who will play a limited snap count this weekend in his first game action since last December.

"Danny's moving well out there," Kubiak said. "I think Danny's working toward opening day. I think we're right on schedule."

I know what it takes and I know the mindset to play at this level. Come game time, I'm going to be ready. -Danny Trevathan on playing Saturday.

Trevathan is most definitely ready for some real game action.

"It's going to be good for me to get the feeling to assure myself that I can still move, be confident and play with everybody, which I'm sure that I am," Trevathan said. "I know what it takes and I know the mindset that you need to go out there and play at this level. Come game time, I'm going to be ready."

But it wouldn't be the Broncos Defense without Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and even rookie Shane Ray bringing the fire from the edge.

49ers tackle Joe Staley certainly knows not to count them out - especially Miller.

"His speed and his power," Staley told Broncos.com. "A guy with such good get off, the power he plays with is pretty much unmatched in the NFL. It's been great work for us."

Horse Tracks

John Elway says Gary Kubiak, staff have done 'tremendous job' - The Denver Post
John Elway remains driven to win a Super Bowl. He explained Thursday that he is pleased with the transition to coach Gary Kubiak, believing former coach John Fox...

Broncos-49ers Quick Hits: Danny Trevathan ready to play, two-minute drill notes, and more
Trevathan is expected to see approximately 20 plays of work Saturday, and will bolster a defense that continued its dominant work Thursday.

Evan Mathis to have resounding impact on offensive line’s youth
With the addition of Evan Mathis, the Broncos offensive line gets a boost in experience.

Old friends Bethea, Manning reunite at 49ers-Denver practice - Yahoo Sports
From Yahoo Sports: Antoine Bethea faced Peyton Manning in practice when they were teammates for five seasons, so it was no surprise he intercepted the veteran during Wednesday's joint session between San Francisco and Denver.

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders on track to play in season opener - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
Emmanuel Sanders, who originally suffered a hamstring injury Aug. 6 in practice, has not practiced fully with the Broncos since a workout Aug. 14.

Broncos say Evan Mathis right guy at right time and ready for opener
Evan Mathis formally signed his new one-year contract with the Broncos on Wednesday morning and was on the practice field.

Broncos get first look at former rugby star Jarryd Hayne of 49ers - Denver Broncos Blog - ESPN
Broncos star linebacker Von Miller is among those impressed by Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne as he attempts to play in the NFL.

Von Miller: 'I agree with whatever Suggs did'
Broncos linebacker Von Miller was asked about Terrell Suggs' controversial hit on Sam Bradford in the Ravens-Eagles preseason game Saturday.

Could Montee Ball be in danger of being traded? - The Denver Post
Troy E. Renck answers nine of your questions this week, including whether Montee Ball could be traded, whether Trevor Siemian is truly the next Broncos' quarterback...

Von Miller reunites with 'brother,' 49ers' Tony Jerod-Eddie
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie aren't related by blood, but the two couldn't be any closer.

Earl Thomas on track to play in season opener | ProFootballTalk
Despite still wearing a red "no-contact" jersey in practice, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is expected to be ready to play in the team's season opener against the St. Louis Rams. "Earl got a lot of work this week," head coach Pete Carroll said.

Cowboys fired up over 'feisty' slot corner Tyler Patmon - NFL.com
The Cowboys can't replace Orlando Scandrick, but Dallas is high on new slot corner Tyler Patmon, the second-year cover man who will get the first shot at filling the void in the secondary.

Mort says Kraft apologized to him, Patriots deny it | ProFootballTalk
Not much had been said in recent days about Chris Mortensen's role in the hatching of #DeflateGate because nobody had really said much about it. Mort said some more stuff about it on Thursday, and he probably now wishes that he hadn't. Appearing on Arizona Sports 98.

New York Jets add Josh Johnson to stable of QBs - NFL.com
As the preseason nears a close in the next few weeks, the number of teams trying to shore up their depth at the quarterback position is sure to increase. The Jets jumped into the fray by signing Josh Johnson.

Report: Mallett overslept, missed Thursday's practice - NFL.com
Days after losing the starting quarterback job to Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans play-caller Ryan Mallett missed Thursday's practice because he reportedly overslept.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, kicker Connor Barth agree to contract
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms with former Bucs place-kicker Connor Barth after he was released by the Denver Broncos on Wednesday.

Steelers' Martavis Bryant facing 4-game suspension - NFL.com
Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

Aaron Rodgers unsure who wins Packers' No. 3 WR job - NFL.com
With Randall Cobb and Davante Adams cemented in as Green Bay's top-two wideouts, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis are competing for the No. 3 job. Aaron Rodgers said he isn't sure who will win the job.