- 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:
With Montee Ball out of practice to undergo an appendectomy, Ronnie Hillman moved into the top spot with the starters and took most of the work with the first-team offense. Hillman looked quick to the hole, including one inside big run behind center Manny Ramirez and left guard Orlando Franklin against the starting defense in team drills. C.J. Anderson played a few snaps with the first-team offense while undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson got plenty of reps with the second team. That should be the order of backs going into the Thursday night preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
Linebacker Von Miller, who tore an ACL in the Broncos' Week 16 victory over the Houston Texans in December, has slowly and steadily increased his workload in training camp. Initially he did only individual and some 7-on-7 drills. He appeared in some team drills in Monday's practice. The Broncos were in full pads, but with a game just a few days away, they did not go at the highest tempo.
When the Broncos signed T.J. Ward in free agency they knew they were getting a high-end 100-tackle safety -- 105 in 2010 for Cleveland, 139 last season -- who played with a physical edge and can move all over the formation. But what the defensive coaches have also seen in practice has them preparing to add a little more to Ward's to-do list. Ward has consistently shown the ability to cover downfield, perhaps even a little better than the Broncos may have expected. Monday, while locked up with Wes Welker in 1-on-1 coverage, Ward cut in front of Welker to knock a Peyton Manning pass away. That kind of versatility would give the Broncos plenty of options.
Emmanuel Sanders was pulled out of Monday's practice with what head coach John Fox called a "slight'' thigh strain. It meant rookie Cody Latimer, who was the team's second-round pick this past May, got a few more snaps. Latimer has progressed quickly in the offense, in part because of his own efforts. Latimer strolled on to the practice field Monday chatting with Manning and stayed after practice to work more with the quarterback. Latimer and Sanders have worked with Manning each day after practice. Latimer has approached things with an even-keel, get-it-done style as well. Asked about his quality standing on the team's first official depth chart as Sanders' backup, Latimer said; "I don't know. I'm just going out there to play Thursday. I haven't even looked at it. Wherever they put me out there is where I'm at."
The Broncos will practice twice Tuesday, at 8:50 a.m. as well as 5:30 p.m.
Odds and ends: The Broncos have a lot of depth in the defensive line so it's going to be difficult for anyone in the team's rookie crop to break through. But undrafted rookie Kenny Anunike continues to flash in drills. Monday he consistently got the corner in one-on-one pass rush drills. He is a high-quality practice squad candidate who could get someone else's attention if he plays well in the preseason games. ... Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was limping slightly in the back of the end zone as the Broncos ran the last few plays of practice, but told trainers he was OK. … Wide receiver Jordan Norwood, a fifth-year player who has played in 17 games in his career for the Eagles and Browns combined, is getting a long look as a punt returner at the moment. He figures to take a few early punts in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Seahawks.
2dEric D. Williams
2dEric D. Williams