Highlight: They weren't holding a game. They were holding a practice. Not a game. A practice. And 21,933 fans showed up to see the Broncos stretch, perform drill work and go 11-on-11 in the red zone where the first team enjoyed a strong day at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. "It was a definitely great to be out there in front of them. I was pumped," said linebacker Von Miller, who remains on progress in his recovery from right knee surgery. The practice began with Peyton Manning signing autographs at 11:10 a.m., and concluded with the bulk of the roster penning paraphernalia for fans hanging shirts, footballs and pictures over the railing.

Lowlight: Sports Authority Field at Mile High hosted 54,000 fans for Saturday's friendly between Manchester United and AS Roma. It was considered a success, but not necessarily for the grass. The turf was cut lower for the soccer game, leading to multiple slips by Broncos. Pass rusher DeMarcus Ware was held out of part of practice with bruised leg, but coach John Fox said it's not serious. Demaryius Thomas, as scheduled, missed the practice but is expected to rejoin the team on Monday after arranging and attending his grandmother's funeral in Georgia.


Position battle: Depth and defense were words that rarely found their way into the same sentence for the Broncos last season. Offseason upgrades and improved health have created a host of qualified candidates on the defensive line. If Kevin Vickerson (hip) and Derek Wolfe rebound from injuries and remain in the rotation, there will be some difficult decisions. Terrance Knighton anchors the group, and Malik Jackson was one of the league's most underrated players a year ago. That leaves a daunting challenge for the versatile Mitch Unrein, the former Wyoming star. Vickerson could hold the key based on how his hip responds during the preseason.

Troy E. Renck: , trenck@denverpost.com or twitter.com/troyrenck