ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After getting rained out of practice Wednesday, Broncos fans came back in droves on Thursday, with team officials estimating that the training camp attendance record was once again broken.
And all of the 4,600 on hand were happy to see Eric Decker was back to using his hands.
A day after leaving practice with a hamstring injury, the third-year receiver, who is quickly becoming Peyton Manning’s favorite target, was back on the field Thursday — albeit in a limited capacity. Decker was held out of full-contact team drills.
With that being the case, Manning relied more heavily on the on-again, off-again Demaryius Thomas than he has at any point this offseason. The third-year receiver even took to making Manning look good. That happened when Thomas snagged a rare underthrown ball from the new quarterback for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Dump down throws to one of Denver’s newest targets were not a possibility Thursday, though. Ronnie Hillman, who is also dealing with a tweaked groin, was held out of the morning’s practice.
MANNING IN THE HEADLINES
New QB loves his new DBs: Much has been made of Manning making a connection with his new wide receivers, but Associated Press writer Arnie Stapleton wrote about the affinity he’s developing for his new defensive backs.
The addition of three veterans — Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence and Mike Adams — along with the subtraction of two others — the team released Andre’ Goodman and saw Brian Dawkins retire — is helping Manning “gauge the progress of his comeback,” writes Stapleton.
And it doesn’t end there. You can also throw in second-year players Rahim Moore and Chris Harris, who have both shown signs of improvement this offseason.
Heck, it doesn’t even end there. Remember Omar Bolden, the Arizona State cornerback coming off a torn ACL who the Broncos took a flier on with a fourth round draft pick this year? Football national writer Chad Hard thinks he might be the best of the bunch.
“Aside from the injury, which, according to Bolden and the Broncos’ medical staff, he is fully recovered from, there are not many black marks on the 23-years-old’s game,” Hard writes. “He was productive against the explosive, pro-style offenses of the Pac-12 and has displayed good instincts and a high football IQ in camp.”
‘Great source’ said Manning was skeptical about one of his Indy lineman: The quoting of unnamed sources got a little out of hand on an Indianapolis sports talk show yesterday, and juicy details about Manning’s potential disappointment with a Colts lineman paid to protect his now-aching neck were flowing like cheap wine.
That said, one Indianapolis Colts beat writer did at least confirm the general gist of the points being made.
In a response to WFNI radio host and former Indiana University basketball coach Dan Dakich, Mike Chappel, who covers the Colts for the Indianapolis Star, said that Manning “was very skeptical about” Colts lineman Ben Ijalana.
Chappel was responding to Dakich quoting someone he called a “great source,” who had said Ijalana “can’t play dead.”
Though highly-touted at one point, Ijalana, an offensive guard who was recently injured in training camp, has struggled over the course of his short career with Indianapolis.
The Broncos are hoping their line is a bit more stalwart. Signing Ryan Clady to a long-term deal would go a long way in assuring that, but the team recently broke off contract talks with the Pro Bowl left tackle.
Clady is in the final year of a 5-year contract, and reportedly rejected a $50 million offer from the Broncos.