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Broncos' TJ Ward focused on improvement, not contract

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 19:07:29-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- T.J. Ward arrived in training camp focused on improvement, not his contract.

Ward enters the last year of his deal, knowing this could be his final season in Denver. There have been no recent talks on an extension. Ward prefers to stay. But team issues supersede personal business. 

"When it comes to my contract, I am trying to do everything I did before getting my last deal," Ward said. "I am just trying to play my best football. Last year was a disappointment for me and for the team. I am just trying to have a much better season, regardless of the contract. You can throw all that to the side. I am here playing football and trying to be the best football player, and the best player in the league."

Ward netted 87 tackles, one sack and one interception last season. He missed the final two games due to injury, and failed to make the Pro Bowl after three consecutive berths. Motivation, as you might expect, comes easily.

"We went 9-7, it wasn't my best season, I got hurt. It's a bunch of stuff," Ward said. "That's what I am looking at."

And the winner is

The theme of the camp remains impossible to miss. Perhaps you have heard, the Broncos are searching for a quarterback. Leave it to cornerback Aqib Talib to cut to the chase with his bluntness. 

Asked who won on Day One between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, he said, "The defense. I feel like we did great."

Running downhill

Devontae Booker tried to stay positive. It helps with the healing. His sprained right wrist that continued to hurt over the last month turned out to be broken. The second-year pro will have a screw inserted on Friday, leaving him out at least six weeks, and possibly longer. 

"It wasn't serious. He went away during the break and had trouble bench pressing. He came back and the X-Ray showed the fracture," coach Vance Joseph said. "He can play with this. But the concern is his long-term health. I feel badly for him because he had put so much work in."

C.J. Anderson, lighter from his miles of bike rides over the last four months, is prepared to take on a heavier workload. Despite wearing a bulky knee brace, Jamaal Charles looked strong, but will be worked in slowly to keep him healthy for the entire season.

"Our whole goal in our room is to not let anyone down," Anderson said. 

Booker's injury creates an avenue for De'Angelo Henderson to make the roster.

"I am going to maximize everything I get," Henderson said. "I have stuff I have to learn. But for right now, I feel confident."

The Broncos worked out veteran running back Stevan Ridley on Thursday and afterward signed him to a one-year deal. Ridley played one game last season with the Atlanta Falcons. 

"What I know, the right thing to do was to keep training even when the phone was quiet," said Ridley, who drove from Mississippi to New Orleans to catch a flight to Denver on Thursday for his workout. "The man upstairs always has a plan. I believed in him and stuck close to my loved ones. I am just very excited to have this opportunity."

Line it up

The Broncos' offensive line remains a work in progress. Center Matt Paradis showed encouraging progress, going through several drills, but not team work. Garett Bolles and Ty Sambrailo rotated at left tackle, and new addition Allen Barbre entered the mix for the starting left guard spot.

"He's a smart, steady guy," Joseph said.

Footnotes

Defensive end Derek Wolfe missed the morning practice with a stomach illness. He returned and practiced in the Thursday afternoon walk through. ... Rookie defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker overheated on the first day of practice, exiting the field with a trainer. He practiced in the afternoon. ... Defensive end Jared Crick, signed as a situational pass rusher last season, appears to have added weight to help him stop the run better. ... Joseph said the Broncos will work in full pads for the first time on Sunday. ... No one failed the conditioning test. It amounted to posting reasonable times in 10 40-yard dashes for skill players and 10 20-yard dashes for "big players." "It was not about punishment, but a measuring stick to see where we were (in terms of fitness)," Joseph said. ... Seventh-round quarterback Chad Kelly watched practice. He is on the non football injury list. The plan is to place him on the injured reserve, casting this as a redshirt season for him.