ENGLEWOOD - Demaryius Thomas wrung the front of Chris Harris Jr.’s jersey with a straight arm as he jawed at Darian Stewart. Harris pushed back, provoking the No Fly Zone, led by Aqib Talib, to converge on the duo and pull the pair of multi-time All-Pros off each other.
Thomas caught a slant on the play following the dustup and proceeded to throw the ball toward T.J. Ward, who was walking away.
The incident came during red zone 7-on-7s, a passing drill pitting the Broncos' offensive skill players, a group that generated sixth-fewest total yards in the NFL last year, against the vaunted No Fly Zone.
Rookie head coach Vance Joseph wasn’t concerned by the altercation, and actually praised the intensity he’s seen so far.
“It’s been great,” Joseph said. “It’s been really good even among the veteran players like D.T. and Chris [Harris Jr.] today. I love that because if those guys can work, everyone else will follow. When you have the best working against each other every day like that, they’re going to get better. We have to improve everyone. D.T., Chris, Aqib [Talib] and Von; we have to all improve. As coaches, we’re all improving every day.”
Harris Jr. echoed Joseph’s sentiments, adding that the new team mentality played a part in the chippiness late in Friday’s practice.
“It’s good man,” Harris said. “We’re just trying to get better. My intensity is always 10, I’m always at a high level. I’m just trying to bring the best out of everybody.
“I think Coach Joseph’s approach to it [is upping the intensity], the way he has us attacking every day," Harris added. "When you get a new coach, guys kind of get a fresh start and they get to prove themselves over so that’s where you can see that coming from.”
Despite the kerfuffle, Harris Jr. praised the new offense after Friday's on-field workouts and shared his thoughts on the increased opposition in practice.
“We like it,” Harris Jr. said. “We needed to get a lot more competition from the pass. I like [Offensive Coordinator] Mike McCoy and I love his offensive scheme. It’s great. It makes me think and it puts me in motion. They do a lot of different things, use different sets and try to confuse us. I think once the quarterbacks grasp it, they’ll have some of the same success that quarterbacks have had in this system before.”
Peyton Manning notably benefitted from a McCoy-led air-attack during in 2012 when he threw for 37 touchdowns. Also, Tim Tebow saw his best year under McCoy.
Sanders, who played with Manning in Denver after McCoy became the Chargers’ head coach, is excited to work in the new offensive scheme and can’t wait to kick it up a notch.
“I love that,” Sanders said. “We’re not even in attack mode right now. We’re huddling up and calling plays. Mike McCoy is competitive. He’s walking up to me, scheming, right now just at practice. I can only imagine during the game how he’ll be scheming. We’re not even in attack mode right now. Once we’re able to go no huddle, speed up, and use this altitude to our advantage, that’s when we’ll be in attack mode.”
In terms of the way they are approaching practice right now, the Broncos are in attack mode, and the intensity is that of a team that is very serious about winning this season.