The Broncos returned to Sports Authority Field at Mile High for Day 6 of training camp, with their top receiver, Demaryius Thomas, and cornerback Chris Harris. But they also returned to a steady stream of rain and a soaked field.
"It was a very hard condition to practice in, but I thought our team handled it great," coach John Fox said. "We have to work in the elements and they handled it great, but people who don't have to be here — our fans, our Bronco fans — were tremendous to weather all that for two hours."
After playing in front of nearly 22,000 fans Sunday, the Broncos had only 9,207 watching them from the stands, sprinkled along the first few rows of the stadium and under the overhang, trying, but failing, to stay dry. On the field, puddles quickly accumulated on the short grass, causing players to slip while running routes and working through drills.
Fox said the team didn't adjust practice to the weather, saying the players work on individual skills and ball handling enough that he expects them to be able to execute no matter the conditions.
But Demaryius Thomas, back for a full day of camp for the first time since returning from his grandmother's funeral, was wearing only shells but participated in all non-contact drills. (He must go through at least three practices without pads, per the collective bargaining agreement.)
"It's definitely good (to have Thomas back)," wide receiver Julius Thomas said. "Not only is he one hell of a football player but he's one of the leaders on our team. He's a guy that you can ask questions to and has a lot of experience so we know we're a better football team with him out there, and we're excited to have him back."
Chris Harris, who was removed from the physically unable to perform list Tuesday after undergoing ACL surgery about six months ago, was back on the field and, surprisingly, in pads, participating in 11-on-11 drills.
"I've worked so hard, so just to be back out here means a lot to me," Harris said. "I thought it was good for me, too, to come out here in this type of weather and do the little things that I need to do. I haven't had full pads on since the Chargers.
"I know the whole defense, so me being out there just to communicate with everybody, it's just going to make everybody faster and make everybody's job easier."
Harris was confident that he will continue to improve and impress with each practice, but said that he doesn't expect to be 100 percent healthy for about a year.
"I know everyone always talks about Adrian Peterson's comeback," he said with a smile, "but you all need to talk about my comeback because I came back a lot faster than Adrian Peterson did."
Harris wasn't the only one worth talking about at camp Wednesday, though. During 11-on-11 drills, second-round pick Cody Latimer continued to beat fellow rookie, and first-rounder, Bradley Roby, smoking him with in a lateral move up the sideline before leaping for a beautiful catch from Peyton Manning.
Later, running back Montee Ball broke free for a long run up the sideline and followed with score on a short run.
On the defensive end, Kayvon Webster drew a loud applause when he cut in front of Wes Welker and picked off a Manning pass before running it in for a touchdown.
The Broncos return to Dove Valley on Thursday for Day 7 of camp, starting at 8:50 a.m.
Injury update: DE Chase Vaughn did not practice because of knee irritation. DE DeMarcus Ware sat out for the second consecutive practice because of a leg bruise; DE Greg Latta (hip), S John Boyett (back), LB Shaquil Barrett (ankle), CB Chris Young (groin strain) all sat out.
Nicki Jhabvala: 303-954-1299, email@example.com or twitter.com/nickijhabvala