The Denver Broncos kicked off Day 1 of their 2013 training camp practice sessions on Thursday at their Dove Valley headquarters. Over 3,000 fans and 120 media members were in attendance for the team's first public appearance of 2013.
Fans began arriving at the team's facility early this morning to wait in line to get in for free an hour before practice, with the first in line arriving at 2:30 a.m., according to the team.
All of the active players were present for the first day of practice with the exception of rookie defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, who was drafted by the team 28th overall in April. As of this morning, Williams was unsigned, but after he arrived post practice on Thursday, the team was able to strike a deal.
According to the Denver Post's Mike Klis, William's four-year deal is worth $7.6 million and includes a $3.9 million signing bonus. When the team held a second walk-through practice this afternoon, Williams was there, signed and delivered.
All seven of Denver's drafted rookies are now under contract.
Quarterback Peyton Manning was the first to arrive on the practice field for the team's afternoon practice (naturally). After practice, Manning shared his thoughts on outside linebacker Von Miller's pending four-game suspension.
"We have Von Miller’s back, we have everybody on our organization’s back. That’s when you find out a lot about people is who sticks with you when the times are tough," Manning said after practice, per a quote sheet sent out by the team's media department.
"(When) you have a little—some adversity—come your way. How do you respond? How do you handle it? I think the organization has responded. They made their statements and we’ll support those that are going through some adversity. At the same time, we’re going forward trying to win," concluded Manning.
For his part, Miller fully participated in practice, though he was the last to arrive on the field. Apparently in an effort to improve his coverage skills, Miller also spent time practicing with the defensive backs, according to MileHighReport.com's Kyle Montgomery.
As for those defensive backs, Rahim Moore, Mike Adams, David Bruton and Quentin Jammer all rotated in and out with the first-team defense, giving the coaching staff several different looks. Once he fully recovers from micro-fracture surgery, Quinton Carter is also expected to compete for a starting safety gig.
In the backfield, second-year running back Ronnie Hillman ran with the first-team offense while Montee Ball impressed with his receiving skills and Knowshon Moreno showed up looking bulkier, in a good way. All three running backs will be competing to win the starting job this summer.
On the wide receiver front, Demaryius Thomas looked leaner (down from 235 pounds to 226 pounds, per USA Today's Lindsay Jones), Eric Decker connected nicely with Manning and free-agent acquisition Wes Welker got the best of slot cornerback Chris Harris, who has also bulked up.
Throughout training camp, the Broncos will have a host of two-a-day practices, spelled by meetings in between, which are, of course, loved by the players.
The Broncos' next practice will be held tomorrow morning (10:25 a.m. MT), and the team will start practicing in pads this weekend. View the team's complete training camp schedule on DenverBroncos.com.