ENGLEWOOD — Throwing to backups here Wednesday was a back-to-normal practice for Case Keenum.
For most of his career -- as recently as last year's training camp in Minnesota -- the Broncos’ No. 1 quarterback was a No. 2 or No. 3 who lined up with fellow reserves during training camps held at various NFL destinations.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos’ top two receivers, were among several veterans who got training camp practice off Wednesday on a slightly chilly morning at UCHealth Training Center.
In their stead were rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Rotating in were the likes of River Cracraft, who caught a pass from Keenum, Tim Patrick and tight end Matt LaCosse.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s those 11 guys in that huddle,’’ Keenum said. “It doesn’t matter what your role, title or whatever you may be designated as on the depth chart, it’s those 11 guys competing against the other 11 guys.
“I’ve been around long to know sometimes you’re not rolling with the same guys you normally do, and you need other guys to step up and make plays. You’ve got to be confident in everybody who’s on that offensive side of the ball.’’
Davis OK after blow
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph couldn’t rest all his veterans. Starting inside linebacker Todd Davis was in long enough to take a helmet to the sternum. Davis walked into the locker room accompanied by two trainers, but Joseph said it was only as a precaution and the linebacker would be fine.
*Three running backs looked especially impressive Wednesday: Royce Freeman, Devontae Bookier and Phillip Lindsay.
*After going six consecutive practices in full pads, Joseph backed off and had his players in shells (small shoulder pads, helmet) on Wednesday. And he’ll have them practice in shorts, a jersey and a helmet on Thursday. Players will wear a cap for the walkthrough Friday before strapping on all the gear for the preseason game Saturday (6 p.m. pregame, 7 p.m. kickoff, both on Channel 20) against the Minnesota Vikings.
“It’s time to get guys fresh,’’ Joseph said. “You want guys to be fresh to help them put their best foot forward (for the game Saturday). That’s only fair.’’
*That doesn’t mean the intensity was down during practice Wednesday. One of the better scuffles of camp broke out during an isolated one-on-one blocking/pass rush drill. Offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson, and defensive linemen Caushaud Lyons and Kyle Peko were in the middle of it.
*It was Broncos’ alumni day at training camp. Among those who attended were Rod Smith, Simon Fletcher, Dave Studdard, Jim Turner, Ron Egloff, Billy Van Heusen, Steve Watson, Daniel Graham, Reuben Droughns, Kevin Vickerson, Le-Lo Lang, P.J. Alexander, Tim Lucas, and half the local radio sports talk show hosts (Steve Atwater, Alfred Williams, Ray Crockett, Brandon Stokley, Tyler Polumbus, Ryan Harris, Orlando Franklin, David Treadwell) were among those who attended.
*Veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock returned to practice after taking eight days to heal a hamstring. He immediately worked with the first-team defense in place of Chris Harris Jr., who got a vet day off.
*Backup right guard Menelik Watson suffered a pec injury Wednesday. Inside linebacker Joseph Jones missed the past two practices with a sprained foot. Strong safety Su’a Cravens (knee) and defensive lineman Clinton McDonald (shoulder) observed but didn’t participate in practice.
*Brandon McManus got a series of field-goal tries and finished with a successful 61-yarder.