ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Tempers had flared only slightly in the first two and a half weeks of training camp, but Broncos practice took an aggressive turn Monday when Brandon Lloyd and Rahim Moore exchanged blows following an end-zone collision during a team red-zone period.
The two were quickly separated. Their next play against each other was uneventful, aside from Lloyd catching a touchdown pass from Kyle Orton with Moore draped over his back, but the scrum was a predictable sign that the intensity of training camp is beginning to soar with the afternoon temperatures.
“When you’re banging on each other every day it can get chippy,” said Broncos coach John Fox.
The spat snatched the attention of onlookers for more reasons than the obvious one. In particular, it contrasted with the placid, professional nature of this year’s practices, and also was a rare sight — a nine-year veteran taking on a rookie.
“He decided I did something wrong and I didn’t think I did. He shoved me. I shoved him back.” said Moore, a second-round pick who has been on the first team since his first practice.
“The next few plays we talked it over and our minds were clear. It’s a physical game but we can’t hate one another; we’ve got to love each other. I understand that. I’m quite sure he does too.”
Lloyd pleasantly declined to answer questions from reporters after practice, but it was clear from their on-field demeanor and the plays that followed that the resentment wouldn’t linger.
Moore even admitted he might have been at fault in the end-zone collision that preceded the incident.
“I’ve got to watch film but I do think he thought I cut him off. At the point of the play, I think he could have caught it if I hadn’t gotten in front of him,” Moore said. “But I’ll have to watch the film and see what happened — and maybe I was wrong with what I did.”
But Lloyd still attacked after the play, and Moore had to react.
“Of course, it’s a contact sport. He understands that and I understand that. At the end of the day we are family,” Moore said. “We are a team and I want the best for him and he wants the best for me.
“He’s one of my favorite players so I’d be damed to do anything to jeopardize his future.”
But with the incident, the Broncos might have found a rookie free safety intense enough to fight back.
FOX HAS SEEN far worse in practice; in Carolina three summers ago, he saw wide receiver Steve Smith break cornerback Ken Lucas’s nose with a punch that resulted in a two-week regular-season suspension.
If Smith’s punch was a hurricane-force blow to camp unity, the blows between Lloyd and Moore were barely more than a stiff breeze — in other words, nothing unusual.
“It’s pretty typical of camp this time of year,” Fox said.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive tackles Marcus Thomas (pectoral muscle) and Ty Warren (arm) did not finish practice. The Broncos are expected to know more about their statuses on Tuesday …
… Cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson (groin), tight end Richard Quinn (knee) and guard Stanley Daniels (ankle) remained sidelined …
… Wide receiver Eddie Royal was back on the field after missing Thursday’s preseason loss at Dallas and Saturday’s practice with a hip problem.
“It was no setback. We were just being smart about it,” Royal said. “(For the) first preseason game, we just wanted to rest it a little bit and make sure we were out here ready to go today.”
Wide receiver Britt Davis (foot) also returned to practice; he had treatment on his foot during the preseason loss to Dallas and missed Saturday’s work …
… Middle linebacker Nate Irving returned from an ankle injury that had kept him out since last Tuesday. Irving said he was hurt when “somebody fell on my foot,” leaving it a “little bit sore.”
COMINGS AND GOINGS: Denver claimed former Jaguars linebacker Alvin Bowen off waivers late Monday afternoon. Bowen should is expected to take some of the practice repetitions issued to Derek Domino, who was placed on the waived/injured list …
… Defensive tackle Louis Leonard was released after missing most of the last two weeks with a knee injury. With Leonard gone, Warren claimed jersey No. 94 prior to suffering his triceps injury.
WHO’S WHERE: Irving was with the second team at middle linebacker after working with the third unit prior to his injury …
… Fellow linebacker Mario Haggan remained with the second unit, moving from the middle to the strong side …
… Royal’s return restored the Broncos’ three-wide receiver complement on its first team to its usual trio of Lloyd, Royal and Eric Decker …
… Quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn continued to split the second- and third-team repetitions, with Adam Weber receiving occasional third-team work, as has been the case the last two weeks …
… Marcus Thomas’s pectoral muscle injury pushed Kevin Vickerson back onto the first unit. Vickerson worked as a first-team defensive tackle during the first week of training camp, when Thomas wasn’t eligible to practice since he had just signed his unrestricted free-agent contract …
… Linebacker Wesley Woodyard occasionally rotated in with the first-team defense on some passing downs, lining up with D.J. Williams and Von Miller.
THE PLAY OF THE DAY belonged to Irving, who leapt for a one-handed interception of Tebow during a team period.
“I got play faked, and it was just instinct,” Irving said. “The man I was supposed to be guarding in my area, I saw that he was on a seven route stemming out, so I just undercut it and didn’t happen to look back, and the quarterback threw it just a little bit short, and I jumped up and it landed in my hand.”
WEATHER REPORT: The Broncos practiced under mostly sunny skies with the temperature hitting a peak of 89 degrees and remaining in the upper 80′s throughout the two-and-a-half-hour session.
NEXT PRACTICE: Tuesday morning at 8:50 a.m. MDT.