Camp Day 7: The Gang’s All Here

Up-downs

Up-downs greeted some of the defenders Thursday. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Most football players view the up-down drill in the same way the letter carrier views the Rottweiler in the yard along their route — with ample dread.

But the Broncos’ youngest defenders and the veterans that made their 2011 practice debuts Thursday afternoon didn’t have time to fret over the up-downs that awaited them. Instead, they were the first drill that loomed.

As veterans who’d been through the last week of practice looked on, a group that included recent arrivals Ty Warren and Derrick Harvey, returning free-agent signees Marcus Thomas and Wesley Woodyard and rookies such as Nate Irving and Quinton Carter dove to the grass, rose and then dove again — 20 times in all.

It’s a drill that has endured since time immemorial, and one that the players had done countless times before — but not as the first act of training camp, as it was for Woodyard, Thomas, Harvey and Warren.

“Oh, that about killed me,” Warren said. “That’s the initiation; that’s how you build camaraderie. It’s our first day out here, and everybody does it, so it’s good to just be out here.

“I know we’ll get cracked on it a little bit showing how tired or how wounded we were during those up/downs, but all in all, initiation was fun, it’s part of the game and everybody’s glad to be out here.”

The practice debut of Warren and the Broncos’ other free-agent signees wasn’t assured until the collective bargaining agreement was ratified Thursday afternoon.

“It’s  a huge relief,” said safety Brian Dawkins, the Broncos’ player representative to the NFL Players Association. “To learn from the sideline and not the field is a tough thing, so (it’s good) to finally get out there to knock the rust out, get out there with the guys and to sweat and all the good things that happen in training camp.”

TRANSACTIONS: Safety Chevis Jackson, a late-season signee last year, was released to make room for Warren.

ATTENDANCE REPORT: Cornerback Brandon Bing (calf strain) defensive tackles Louis Leonard (knee) and Mitch Unrein (left knee sprain) and linebacker D.J. Williams (hamstring) did not practice …

… Safety Brian Dawkins practiced for the first time this summer. He spent the last week watching from the sideline …

WHO’S WHERE: Dawkins returned to action and to his first-team safety spot, bumping rookie Quinton Carter down to the second unit. Second-round pick Rahim Moore remained at the other safety slot …

… Woodyard stepped in at weakside linebacker, a spot that rookie Mike Mohamed filled for most of the past week while Williams sat out. Mohamed remained with the second unit …

… Brodrick Bunkley played at nose tackle with the first unit for the second consecutive day. Warren backed him up …

… Harvey lined up with the second unit at defensive end …

… Julius Thomas continued to see spot action with the first team, even though free-agent pickups Dante Rosario and Daniel Fells practiced Thursday …

NOTING THE PRACTICE: The signature period of the practice came toward the end, when the Broncos got their first goal-line work of training camp. The defense dominated, only allowing one offensive touchdown, a short pass from Kyle Orton to Dan Gronkowski. The next five plays — including four runs — went nowhere.

… Running back Willis McGahee didn’t see any carries in the goal-line period, coach John Fox opted to ease the nine-year veteran into full work …

… Kicker Matt Prater practiced for the first time Thursday, six days after he signed his restricted free agent tender. Prater and fellow placekicker Steven Hauschka had some difficulty kicking in a stiff breeze during a field-goal period; both sailed kicks into an upright.

NUMBERS GAME: Warren wore jersey number 76 … Rosario and Fells practiced in jersey numbers 49 and 86, respectively.

WEATHER REPORT: Storms filled the skies above and around Dove Valley, but rain showers were confined to a 15-minute period of the pre-practice walk-through. Clouds remained throughout the session, keeping temperatures between 66 and 68 degrees, easily the coolest of training camp to date.

NEXT PRACTICE: Friday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. MDT.

About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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