CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Passes hit the ground. Multiple players failed to run off the field. Assignments were missed. Stupid penalties surfaced.
By 10:59 a.m. Wednesday, 90 minutes into practice, coach Gary Kubiak had seen enough. He gathered the team together and let them have it.
"We had a day off yesterday and we didn't respond very well. Good teams, when you get a break and come back, are bouncing around," Kubiak explained. "We came back lethargic."
It began at quarterback. Mark Sanchez, who ran with the first team most of the day, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch experienced a forgettable first half in the workout. Timing was off. Open receivers went unrewarded, and Lynch, in particular, couldn't keep the ball off the ground.
"We have to be better," Sanchez said. "You just have to fight it, work through it, understand it and learn the lesson. Now when we get our next day off, don't come out like we did today or we are going to be in trouble."
Sanchez rebounded with completions to receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in 11-on-11. Siemian also finished strong. Overall, he was more consistent than Sanchez as he continues to keep pace in the quarterback competition.
"I am focusing on that. I just focusing on what I can control," Siemian said.
If Sanchez has the slight edge, Lynch owned the headlines for two days. The first-rounder made big throws, drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd. At least he did on Sunday and Monday. Wednesday, he looked every bit the part of a rookie despite completing his final four passes.
"I have to be more mentally consistent," Lynch said.
The defense, too, looked clumsy. Four penalties extended drives.
"We were sluggish. We came out flat," acknowledged cornerback Bradley Roby after the group's second consecutive uneven performance.
Kubiak continues to look for leaders to emerge. When players take ownership and police themselves, it creates stronger accountability. The Broncos are missing their most prominent voices. Quarterback Peyton Manning retired and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is taking a conservative approach to his recovery from a back injury, while eyeing the season opener.
Aqib Talib's absence remains glaring. He is recovering from a gunshot wound in his lower right leg that the NFL is investigating for a possible suspension. He has moved well in drills, but has yet to practice. Standing on the sideline, Talib continues to help teammates, but his soundtrack of trash talk is missing, turning practice from electric to acoustic.
Energy and effort are non-negotiable with Kubiak. He barked at multiple players for not hustling off the field or being ready when their group was called.
"I think guys get tired and start thinking about a bunch of assignments. All of a sudden they don't realize that sometimes they are not doing things the way they need to do them," Kubiak said. "They need to be reminded. If you want to be good in this business you have to be able to run all day. That's something we coach."
Ty Sambrailo did not participate in practice because of a hyperextended right elbow. Connor McGovern took another turn at the starting right guard position. Michael Schofield, who played left tackle last season, is also getting reps inside. Schofield and James Ferentz saw time at left guard with Max Garcia out with a sprained ankle suffered during a walkthrough on Monday. Garcia is expected to return on Thursday ... Cornerback Kayvon Webster, who is having a terrific camp, missed Wednesday with a bruised thigh. ... Tight end John Phillips (ankle) and receiver Marlon Brown were out. Brown was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his back, which limited him last season in Baltimore. ... The play of the defensive line stood out on an otherwise disappointing day. Sylvester Williams, Jared Crick and Vance Walker played well. Williams and Crick deflected passes, and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett returned a Kapri Bibbs' fumble for a touchdown.
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