ENGLEWOOD--For the first time since Super Bowl 50, Denver Bronco players put on full pads for their fourth training camp practice Sunday.
And what did the largest crowd of this year’s camp see?
There were two skirmishes, both started by Broncos center James Ferentz and linebacker Corey Nelson. The second was a doozy as those two scrapped on the ground and players from everywhere piled on.
“That's the way we show love to one another,’’ said left tackle Russell Okung, who is limited in practice because of offseason shoulder surgery. “I think every family fights and every family has differences so as long as we all come together for the common goal, we'll be fine.”
After the second fight, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak brought his team together to essentially tell them to knock it off and finish practice.
“That may not have been the smartest thing that we’ve done out there, but it shows that we’re passionate,” Nelson said. “We’re passionate about our jobs, we’re passionate about what we’re doing out here, and that’s only making us better. But the fine line is, we do need to be smarter, we do need to be better, and not have fights like that.”
There was a frightening moment Sunday as veteran backup guard Sam Brenner suffered a serious concussion during what appeared to be a routine running play.
Brenner was laying facedown for about a minute before he was carted off the field. It was another reminder that when the pads come on and the contact escalates, football is a dangerous game.
“It is scary,’’ Kubiak said. “It looked like he got caught in a pile and went down face first. That’s what I saw. He was talking to me and Greek (trainer Steve Antonopulos) the whole time. We’re going to evaluate him and see where he’s at.”
Big guys rest
As he did during training camp last year, Kubiak gives 10 veteran players or so a day off every fourth day of camp. Broncos not participating Sunday were receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, tight end Virgil Green, defensive backs Chris Harris Jr., T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart, linebacker Brandon Marshall, center Matt Paradis and defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams.
Not participating because of injury were linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who turned 34 Sunday, cornerback Aqib Talib and tight end John Phillips, who suffered a sprained ankle Saturday.
Running back Ronnie Hillman left with a back injury after he was clobbered by linebacker Zaire Anderson and receiver Marlon Brown also left practice with an undisclosed ailment.
Maybe it’s the hill
The largest single-day training camp gathering at Dove Valley during the Tim Tebow era was 3,103 on Aug. 1, 2010. The largest crowd at Dove Valley during the first two Peyton Manning seasons was 5,034 on Aug. 2, 2012.
Those were the records in the old berm days. In 2014, the Broncos reconstructed and significantly expanded the berm seating area.
When it opened up back for business last year, a new record crowd of 5,507 gathered on Aug. 7. The Sunday crowd of 4,741 would have been the second-largest in the pre-big-berm days but there were four larger crowds last year.
Taylor to I.R., Winn signed
It appears Phil Taylor's days with the Broncos are finished before they got much of a start.
In a swap of Tom Heckert finds, the Broncos placed Taylor, a defensive lineman, on injured reserve Sunday with a left knee injury and signed defensive end Billy Winn. Because head coach Gary Kubiak said Saturday that Taylor's MRI exam checked out fine, don't be surprised if the Broncos release Taylor once he's fully recovered in a few days.
Heckert was the Cleveland Browns' general manager who drafted Taylor in the first round of the 2011 draft and Winn in the sixth round of 2012. Heckert is now the Broncos' director of pro personnel. Taylor was a productive player for the Browns until he started experienced right knee issues two years ago.
He appeared to suffer a left knee sprain during the Broncos' camp practice Friday.