ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For some with the Denver Broncos, the first OTA practice on Wednesday was a ho-hum affair. But for others it was a long-awaited return after injuries cut short their 2013 seasons.
And for the Broncos the list is long, with linebacker Von Miller (ACL), offensive tackle Ryan Clady (foot), safety Rahim Moore (leg), defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (illness) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (knee) all taking part at varying levels of participation Wednesday.
"I was a little teary eyed during warm-ups,'' said Moore, who suffered lateral compartment syndrome (when an injury builds swelling in a confined area; it can result in amputation in the most serious cases) in his lower leg during the team's Week 11 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Moore was a full participant Wednesday, the first of the team's OTA workouts over the next four weeks, as was Clady, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in a Week 2 win over the New York Giants. Clady, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, did not miss a start in his first five seasons with the team.
Players and coaches, while giving a nod to the efforts of Chris Clark filling in for Clady last season as the Broncos scored a league-record 606 points, have also touted the offense's potential to improve with Clady's return
"Getting Ryan back, it's about, it's kind of like signing a free agent or having a top pick in the draft," quarterback Peyton Manning said Wednesday. "He is the top left tackle out there. ... It's certainly nice to have him back.''
Moore joked that he had been gone so long, he put his jersey on backward and didn't notice until he was walking out to the practice field.
Wolfe also was a full participant Wednesday, and he is expected to take part in all offseason work moving forward. Miller, who is recovering from December knee surgery, took part in some limited individual drills. Harris, who is returning from ACL surgery for an injury suffered in the Broncos' divisional round win over the San Diego Chargers, worked with the team's strength and conditioning staff during practice.
Miller is expected to be limited into training camp as well. Harris said last week he expected to be full speed and back in the defense "by the middle of training camp.'' Harris did not suffer a complete tear of the ACL, and no other ligaments or cartilage were damaged in his knee, so his return to the lineup may be quicker than Miller's.
Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who suffered a season-ending hip injury in November, was on the field Wednesday but did not take part in drills.
"People forget what the injury rehab process is like ... how much work these guys put in,'' Manning said. "To get back on the field is a monumental step for a number of guys, especially a guy like Ryan Clady. Good to see them out there in the huddle.''