Already a bit of an experiment with the two teams electing to go against each other so deep in the preseason, the squads have tried to keep a lid on their emotions through the week as to avoid any injury risk.
But after a rather uneventful first day of work on Tuesday, a smattering of push-and-shove things broke out in Wednesday’s practice. And Thursday it all boiled over a bit with a two-team sized scrum that included some wild punches thrown in the middle of the last extended skirmish.
"I wasn’t looking at punches or anything," Broncos coach John Fox said. "It just gets that way because they are all very competitive people."
"I don’t really know what happened to be honest with you," Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme said. "I kind of ran down there late to try and help our guys out. Everything kind of got calmed down relatively quickly, so I don’t even know what happened. That stuff is going to happen every once in a while when you have two good, competitive teams."
Initially, in a team drill it was Broncos left guard Orlando Franklin and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt who had some words to go with a push or two. A bit later several Broncos players said it was the Texans' D.J. Swearinger in the middle of things as Broncos running back Montee Ball also reacted harshly after getting pushed in the crowd.
Players from both sidelines then ran to the group and there were some wild swings at that point. After some initial difficulty in getting the teams separated, the coaches were eventually able to move on with practice, but not without a smaller flare up.
As it had been Wednesday, the emotions seemed highest when the Broncos' offense and the Texans' defense were matched up.
Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady said some of the Broncos' younger players had asked what it would be like to practice against another team.
"People ask me -- because a lot of guys have never practiced against other teams – [if] there are going to be fights," Clady said. "It’s kind of the nature of the game. When it’s not your actual teammate, you’re going to want to lash out and fight. It’s one of those things that you have to prepare for it, and hopefully it’s not too bad that you have to end practice or something."
Fox said, in general, he believed the work had been beneficial and that he would do it again. It was the first time Fox’s team has practiced against another team in training camp since he has been a head coach -- a nine-year tenure in Carolina and now in his fourth year in Denver.
"I enjoyed it -- right now my feeling is yes," Fox said. "Whether or not that comes to fruition, who knows."
It will be easier in the future for the Broncos to have another team practice at their complex. The current $35 million construction project at the team’s facility includes an indoor practice complex that will have its own full locker room and full training room facilities for another team to use beyond what the Broncos have for their own team.