There had been very little back-and-forth with any real edge to it in almost two full practices, almost no pushing and no skirmishes. Then the final period of Wednesday's workout dissolved into plenty of pushing, a lot of jawing and after the final play of practice it had all escalated far enough both teams had gathered in one mass, poised for more.
Coaches for both teams finally got the two sides separated, no punches were thrown and things cooled down quickly. Several players chatted after practice and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning went over to introduce himself to Texans rookie quarterback Tom Savage.
"Just a little jawing, that was typical," Broncos head coach John Fox said.
With the regular season just three weeks away, Fox has talked about the importance of players handling themselves and their emotions during the practices with the Texans this week. It isn’t common for two teams to work together this late in the preseason and neither side wants to risk an injury in a practice-field fight.
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was particularly heated after a run-play scrum that ended with Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and Texans running back Arian Foster exchanging words with some bonus finger pointing.
Shortly after the practice, Broncos safety T.J. Ward took to Twitter to offer:
"The heat goin up at practice. I love the competition! Let's get it!"
The two teams will have three practices in all against each other this week, but Wednesday’s was scheduled to be only one in full pads. Things were tense early as well when, in one-on-one drills Texans defensive end J.J. Watt powered around Broncos tackle Chris Clark and Clark shoved Watt’s helmet off at the end of the play.
Watt took exception and said as much, and Clark gave Watt a shove. To which Watt, after a long stare, jogged away offering, "Don’t get mad when you get beat."
All in all, however, players from both sides seemed happy to be practicing against another team rather than simply another week of pushing on each other.
"It’s competitive, it’s great," Talib said. "We’re all here to work, we know that. Things get intense, they’re going hard, we’re going hard. But we’re all here to work."