Broncos short-handed at receiver as OTAs draw to close

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As the Denver Broncos began the final week of their offseason program with Monday’s OTA (organized team activities) practice, it was clear with the end in sight, some aches and pains had settled in.

The Broncos held three wide receivers out of the practice with sore hamstrings – Cody Latimer, Jordan Norwood and Kyle Williams – and with Demaryius Thomas having skipped the offseason program as he and his representatives try to work out a long-term contract with the team, it left the Broncos short-handed in the passing game.

And the results weren’t always pretty, with more than a few drops and stalled drives.

“We pulled some guys out, we got some nicks going on,’’ Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said following practice. “ … To be honest we didn’t practice well today, we were sloppy, down some people. We did get going, we practiced better at the end of practice, but we’ve got to push through it, it wasn’t our best day, that’s for sure.’’

The Broncos will conclude their offseason work this week. The team held its three-day mandatory minicamp last week so all that remains are the voluntary OTA workouts.

The Broncos also held defensive lineman Vance Walker out of Monday's drills with a thigh injury. Safety T.J. Ward, who attended Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday night, did not take part in Monday’s practice. David Bruton Jr. lined up at Ward’s safety spot in the starting defense.

Overall, however, the shortage of wide receivers forced the Broncos to move other players up the depth chart for the day and the results were somewhat mixed. Nathan Palmer, who spent virtually all of the 2014 season on the Broncos practice squad, found himself with the starters on offense when the team worked in a three-wide receiver set.

In those three-wide looks, Palmer lined up with Emmanuel Sanders and Andre Caldwell at the other receiver spots. Caldwell and Sanders worked with the starting offense when the team had two wide receivers in the formation as well.

Latimer had been working as the No. 3 wide receiver during the offseason program.

Overall there were some periods of sluggishness up and down the depth chart when the Broncos worked through things on the passing game Monday. But Kubiak said he was happy with the way quarterback Peyton Manning was throwing the ball as the team was set to adjourn the offseason program later this week.

“I think he’s thrown the ball really well,’’ Kubiak said. “ … He struggled one period, then he took them right down the next period … I think he’s getting real comfortable with what we’re doing and then there’s times when we turned him loose with what he’s done and obviously that’s an easy comfort zone for him. But he’s been steady with what he’s doing and he’s had to work with some really young players. specially you look at receiver today, the six guys that we’re working, other than Emmanuel, that’s a bunch of guys that haven’t played much football.’’