CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Michael Schofield became known to Broncos fans for all the wrong reasons last year.
He struggled at right tackle, bottoming out in a December home loss to the Oakland Raiders as Khalil Mack sacked Brock Osweiler five times in the second half. The venom directed at Schofield was toxic, far greater than wishing he was simply off the team. Schofield did his best to shield himself from the outside noise, leaning on family, and friends. He admitted his Raiders' performance was his "worst of all time." Learning from former teammates Ryan Clady and Tyler Polumbus, who both were the targets of fan vitriol on previous clubs, Schofield returned to fundamentals.
He quietly finished the season strong, playing his best football in the playoffs. His reaction to adversity impressed coaches. His versatility this summer helped him even more. He started training camp as a backup tackle and has moved into the starting right guard spot, where he played some at Michigan.
He began Sunday's practice in advance of the NFL's season opener Thursday against Carolina as the No. 1 right guard ahead of Darrion Weems.
"They told me this morning," Schofield said, accepting congratulations.
Weems was running first until suffering a concussion in the second preseason game. He cleared the protocol but is listed as a reserve. Former Colorado State standout Ty Sambrailo (pictured) practiced Sunday for the first time in weeks, but interestingly, is listed as the backup left tackle, his position last year, behind Russell Okung. Sambrailo opened training camp as the starting right guard but missed the entire preseason with a hyperextended right elbow.
Other depth chart wrinkles worth monitoring:
-- The Broncos listed tight end Jeff Heuerman as second string, but he was not practicing during the open media viewing period Monday. He's no guarantee to play on Thursday after missing the last three preseason games with a hamstring issue. The Broncos kept John Phillips as protection and figure to look for tight ends on the waiver wire. Rookie Henry Krieger-Coble made the practice squad.
-- Denver worked out receiver Brandon Tate on Saturday as it looks for help in the return game. Cody Latimer, practicing following a bruised knee injury, is listed first on kick returns followed by Jordan Norwood. Norwood is the starting punt returner with star receiver Emmanuel Sanders as the backup. Sanders performed the role in a limited capacity last year.
-- Rookie Devontae Booker is second behind C.J. Anderson at running back. Booker also switched to No. 23. It became available when Ronnie Hillman was cut on Saturday. The Broncos attempted to trade Hillman to an AFC team, but couldn't find a fit.