ENGLEWOOD — They’ve gone from beleaguered to the Five Blocks of Keenum.
The Broncos’ offensive line through the first two days of training camp has lined up, from left to right, tackle Garett Bolles; guard Ron Leary; center Matt Paradis; guard Connor McGovern; and tackle Jared Veldheer.
Every five snaps or so, Max Garcia replaces Leary at left guard and Billy Turner subs in for the right tackle Veldheer. It’s a concession to Leary and Veldheer missing the entire offseason to recover from injuries.
Derek Wolfe, the Broncos’ best defensive lineman, said he’s noticed a considerable improvement in the offensive line he’s gone against in practice.
“Oh, absolutely. No offense but last year we’d get by ‘em at will,’’ Wolfe said following practice Sunday. “Now, it’s like – you’re not getting a clean win on one-and-ones. You’re not going to get a clean win, you’re going to have to fight for it.
“They’re getting so much better. They’ve got depth. They’re playing as one. They get along. They like each other and care about each other. That’s huge.
“You’ve seen we’ve gone two days in a row without fighting. That says something.’’
Tempers will likely flare once the pads go on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the greater point is the O-line should no longer be the Broncos’ weak link.
Bolles should be a better left tackle in his second season. Leary is better at left guard than right. And Veldheer should be an upgrade at right tackle compared to the recent likes of Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson and Ty Sambrailo.
Paradis is one of the top five or six centers in the league. McGovern is the biggest question but so far he is ahead of Watson for the starting right guard position.
Wolfe also thinks the new offensive line coaching duo of Sean Kugler and Chris Strausser has made a difference.
“Technique, they’re doing things I haven’t seen before,’’ Wolfe said. “It’s making us better, too.’’
PHOTOS | Denver Broncos Training Camp Fan Experience
Sanders, Thomas shine
Two practices and Emmanuel Sanders has made big-time catches in both. On Sunday, Broncos quarterback Case Keenum hit Demaryius Thomas on a long crossing route as the receiver went right to left near the sideline during a 7 on 7 drill.
Sanders then did D.T. one better by making a one-handed snag on a long Keenum pass down the left sideline.
“I changed my diet the past three months,’’ Sanders said. “I’ve been staying away from beef, pork, eating chicken. Making sure it’s wild (caught) fish. … Making sure I eat healthy, and it’s been paying off. I feel good. I feel lighter.’’
Running back competition
For the most part, running backs Devontae Booker and rookie Royce Freeman have been splitting reps behind Keenum, with the first-team offense while De’Angelo Henderson, Phillip Lindsay and Dave Williams mostly get their reps with No. 2 quarterback Paxton Lynch and No. 3 Chad Kelly.
“I don’t see it that way,’’ said Head Coach Vance Joseph. “I really don’t. If you watch our practice all five guys are getting (No.) 1 reps so we’re competing.’’
True, Henderson, Williams and Lindsay did get a rep or two Sunday with Keenum. But nearly as many as Booker and Freeman.
“In this league there are only two groups,’’ Joseph said. “It’s guys who are named proven starters who want to remain starters. And then there are guys who are backups who want to be starters. Everyone is competing.’’
Recently acquired receiver Corey “Philly” Brown missed Day 2 of camp practice after he suffered a knock on the head in a weight-room accident. …
Rookie inside linebacker and receiver Kenny Bell missed practice again Sunday with hamstring pulls. …
Brittany Bowlen, the clear favorite among Pat Bowlen’s seven children to one day replace her father as the Broncos’ principal owner, attended the Broncos’ camp practice Sunday.