Denver Broncos Training Camp Notes Day Three and Four: Ayers on Board

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Denver Broncos Training Camp Notes Day Three and Four:  Ayers on Board
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

For those who were hoping for an update last night, I deeply apologize.  My family headed north to Greeley, CO to visit some other family, and I was unable to find any access to a computer whatsoever.

Late or not, I come bearing some good news as well as some bad.

The bad news is that Brandon Marshall has suffered yet another injury, this time to his hamstring.  Marshall was absent from the team's morning practice on Sunday, and apparently left the late practice early.

The good news is that the team has officially signed outside linebacker/defensive lineman Robert Ayers to a five year contract.

The 18th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft had been holding out of practices for four days.

Knowshon Moreno, the 12th overall pick in the draft, is still in Georgia working out, and has not reported to Dove Valley for training camp.

Now on to the good stuff.

Sunday's practice was the hottest I have ever attended in 12 years of coming to Denver Broncos' training camp.  It was miserable, but the players were all on top of their game's.

Kyle Orton especially.

When practicing throwing the deep ball, Orton missed only one pass to Matt Willis, and that was because it was dropped.  He consistently put the ball on the receivers' back shoulder and was throwing the ball 40-45 yards in the air.

Sunday also saw the Broncos' first real look at the "wildcat" offensive formation.

In this formation, Orton motioned out wide and running back Correll Buckhalter lined up as the quarterback. 

The Broncos did not try anything too fancy out of this formation, just a couple of draw plays designed for Buckhalter, but they did surprise the fans with something else.

On multiple occasions, Orton received the snap and started a wide receiver reverse to Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney took the ball to the right tackle where he stopped dead in his tracks and tossed the ball back to Orton, who looked downfield for a streaking Eddie Royal.

Only once did the Broncos try this against their own defense, and Andre Goodman was able to distract Royal just enough to where he lost concentration of the ball, it hit him in his chest plate, and the play resulted in an incomplete pass.

Still, the efforts of both ends attracted applause from the crowd, but what was really inspiring was what occurred during the two-minute drill.

On the first play, Kyle Orton threw a desperation deep pass that was nearly picked off by safety Brian Dawkins. Dawkins knew he had missed an opportunity, and he punished himself by doing a series of push-up's.

The crowd took notice and roared in applause. Apparently Bronco fans are not used to this kind of effort and passion.

At the end of practice, the Broncos were running more "gassers", where they run the width of the field and back in separate units. It is this kind of effort that is really giving skeptical fans hope for the new regime. Josh McDaniels is a "no bull" kind of coach.

Chris Simms was sent running laps again during Sunday's session, as well as center Casey Wiegmann after the two botched a snap.

With each practice, I have noticed that the Broncos' running game appears to be as strong as it has been since Clinton Portis was dealt for Champ Bailey, and this team does not even have its prized back in camp yet.

Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, LaMont Jordan, Correll Buckhalter, and even Darius Walker have all had their share of moments during practice, but on Sunday, Torain was the horse.

He appears to have fully healed from his knee injury suffered last season, and is a dark horse right now to start if Moreno misses enough time.

Peyton Hillis was spread out again as a fullback, running back, and receiver in different formations, and he excelled at each.

Marcus Thomas had a sack during the two-minute drill, as well as Chris Baker, which was a very welcome sight to Bronco fans who have been sorely missing a ferocious pass rush.

More to come from Monday's practice sessions.

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