CENTENNIAL, Colo. - The players are back on the field and the coaches are calling plays, but one thing is noticeably different at Broncos training camp this year -- the fans.
In past seasons, over 4,000 fans came out to watch practices during training camp. This year, with the Dove Valley facility under construction, the only bystanders were the reporters standing beside their cameras.
"We definitely missed the fans today and I know we're going to miss them all of training camp. Obviously it is an unavoidable situation with the construction, and the logistics of it," said quarterback Peyton Manning. "The facility is going to be first class, I think it is much needed. It had to be done, but the disappointment is that the fans couldn't come to training camp."
"Our guys are probably more disappointed about it than anybody, maybe even the fans," said Coach John Fox. "(Fans) have three opportunities to go down to Sports Authority (Field) and we will miss them, but we have to deal with it. It is a safety issue with construction and we look forward to getting them back out here next year."
Players hit the field at 8:50 a.m. sharp for their first practice of the day. They've also held team meetings and will hold a second workout Thursday evening.
Manning lined up for his first snaps Thursday behind an offensive line that has been shuffled, in front of a running back who took only 25 percent of the snaps last year and looking down the line at some pass catchers who were either bit players or playing somewhere else last season.
The quarterback who thrived on the familiarity of playing with the same receivers, same tight end and same running backs year after year in Indianapolis, is now having to adjust to a revamped offensive roster to start his third year in Denver.
One other notable personality missing from the bustling facility Thursday was owner Pat Bowlen. The team announced Wednesday that the man they call "Mr. B" was stepping resigning his role due to his battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
"Yesterday was a sad announcement for anybody that's played for the Denver Broncos. The fact that Mr. Bowlen is not going to be in that same role out here at practice or in the building every single day is sad," Manning said. "I feel very honored to be the quarterback of Mr. Bowlen's team."