- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Denver Broncos training camp:
In what was the third practice in full gear, the Broncos went through several run-game situations in the red zone. They covered several short-yardage scenarios including third-and-goal on the 1-yard line. "We are introducing it as far as our installation and I think it builds a little toughness and it is a good way to start your live contact," said Broncos head coach John Fox. The starters were split fairly evenly, with the offense winning some, the defense others, but the second- and third-team defenses got the better of those drills this time.
Linebacker continues to be a spot where the Broncos have shown some quality competition and the kind of potential depth the team did not have last season after some injuries set in. Brandon Marshall, who spent the majority of the 2013 season on the Broncos' practice squad before he was signed to the active roster in the last week of the regular season, has made an early push for a roster spot. Marshall, with Von Miller still being held out of team drills, has even taken some snaps with the starters in some of the Broncos' specialty packages. Marshall has also been regular on the front-line special teams' units thus far. The Broncos kept just six linebackers on the roster when they cut to 53 players last season after they had kept seven in both 2011 and 2012.
The Broncos held DeMarcus Ware out of Monday's practices because of a bruised lower right leg. As a result Quanterus Smith lined up with the starters for much of the morning workout at Ware's right defensive end spot. In both one-on-one drills in camp's early going and in the team drills, Smith has shown he has the knack for finding a sliver of room to get to the quarterback. He also varies his looks and has shown more proficiency working to the inside than many young pass-rushers do, who often spend their entire college careers simply beating slower tackles to the corner. Potentially -- and again the games will tell the real story -- defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will have a quality mix-and-match in rush situations with Miller, Ware, Smith, Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe.
The starters behaved for the most part, but things down the depth chart got testy as several dust-ups between the team's reserves broke out during practice. Players were separated quickly in each case, but those players searching for ways to climb the depth chart a bit were obviously trying to play with a bit of an edge. At one point head coach John Fox simply called it "wasted energy."
Second-round draft pick Cody Latimer, who missed most of the offseason work recovering from a fractured foot he suffered in a January pre-draft workout, has shown a little more each day of what he can potentially bring to an already high-powered offense. He had a quality catch-and-run score through the second-team defense on a throw from Brock Osweiler in team drills. Later he made a leaping catch on the sideline and almost made a diving grab on a deep ball Osweiler had put between safeties Duke Ihenacho and Quinton Carter. Latimer got his hands on the ball, but could not retain possession as he hit the ground.
Odds and ends: Undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson got some carries with the second-team offencse in the morning practice. … Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who had been excused since Wednesday night after the death of his grandmother, arrived back at the team's complex with about 30 minutes remaining in the morning practice and he took part in the evening walk-through. … Rookie cornerback Louis Young had some situational work in short-yardage with the second-team defense.
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