ENGLEWOOD— The physical training camp practices of Broncos coach Josh McDaniels last summer were a source of grumbling by the players.
Given the rash of injuries and a late-season fade, there was some thought that McDaniels might pull back on the hard hitting in Year 2.
No such luck.
It’s all systems go right out of the gate as the Broncos will open training camp in full pads Sunday. McDaniels said the heavy hitting now will pay off down the road.
“To establish yourself as a football team that’s going to be physical, you’ve got to be physical in training camp,” McDaniels said Wednesday after the first workout for rookies and players coming off injuries. “We can’t just talk about it, rest and kind of go through the motions in training camp and hope that on Sept. 12 we turn out to be a physical team.”
However, McDaniels isn’t going to push his team to the brink of exhaustion. He does plan to implement more walk-throughs during two-a-days to ease back on some of the contact.
“For the most part, it’s going to be the same style,” McDaniels insisted.
The Broncos had some familiar faces back on the field Wednesday as offensive linemen Ryan Harris and Russ Hochstein participated in drills. Harris missed the second half of the season with a toe injury and Hochstein tore a knee ligament and was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 29.
All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady also was around the building, though not near the field.
Clady underwent surgery this offseason to repair a partially torn left patellar tendon, the result of an injury while playing basketball.
He was placed on the non-football injury list Wednesday, meaning he won’t be cleared to practice until he passes a physical.
“He’s getting better,” McDaniels said. “He’s working really diligently to try to get back on the field as soon as he can. There’s no timetable for that. Ryan is working extremely hard to put himself in a position to play as soon as he possibly can.”
Rookie receiver Eric Decker was back on the field Wednesday after missing the offseason as he recovered from an injured ligament in his left foot that cut short his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota.
“I’m excited to be on the field and just get some work in,” said Decker, a third-round pick.
Decker definitely made an early impression on quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn.
“He looked good out there. He’s a big kid,” Quinn said. “He looks big out of pads, but looks even bigger in pads.”
Decker, along with first-round pick Demaryius Thomas, will be counted on to help lessen the loss of Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, who was dealt to the Miami Dolphins.
“I think today was a good day for Deck, because he got to get out there today and run and catch,” McDaniels said. “There wasn’t the training he was doing all spring — it was football.”
The Broncos will wear a HealthONE patch on their practice jerseys, marking the first time the team has altered their practice jerseys in 51 years. It’s part of the partnership the Broncos have with HealthONE, which has existed for nearly two decades. ... Broncos LB Darrell Reid (knee) and DL Jamal Williams (triceps) were placed on the physically unable to perform list.