CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- When the Broncos reached the playoffs last season, coach Gary Kubiak put it into simple terms for his players: The team which plays the best for a month will be remembered.
Cornerback Kayvon Webster bought in. He went from a reserve cornerback to a special teams terror, impacting the postseason run with relentless effort.
"We just showed them film on the inside-the-20 stuff. You look at those playoff games against Pittsburgh and New England, and I believe he downed four inside the 5,” said special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis. “That’s going to help you win games. He worked his tail off.”
Webster admits he wants a bigger role this season. He desires to be a full card-carrying member of the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" secondary. He continues to take advantage of scant reps, breaking up two passes, including a long spiral intended for Emmanuel Sanders. Bradley Roby is taking first-team reps for the injured Aqib Talib, who is close to returning to practice.
"(Webster's) a great example for the football team," Kubiak said Saturday. "He really has been. He's a big player for us. He's come back really focused on what he's doing."
Webster admittedly didn't have an offseason as he enters the final year of his contract. He ran drills with trainers in Miami, improving his balance with a Busco board. And if that guy at the local Lifetime Fitness looked familiar, it was Webster catching at least 150 passes five times per week.
"I can’t take breaks off. I know what I want. I know what I want to get,” Webster says, pausing, “and I know what it’s going to take. ... I have to maximize my opportunities. It's kind of frustrating not being out there but I am a team player."
Taylor, Williams improve
The Broncos survived a scare. When Phil Taylor went down Friday, his animated reaction sparked concern. However, an MRI on his left knee came back negative, and he is expected to practice Sunday. Taylor is attempting to make the team as a reserve defensive lineman. Nose tackle Sylvester Williams watched Saturday with a shoulder injury, but it won't be long before he returns. An MRI on his shoulder showed no issues, leaving him likely to return Monday. Vance Walker and Darius Kilgo shared reps in Williams' absence.
Cornerback Aqib Talib worked out Saturday, backpedaling up the berm before practice. He has shown good lateral movement in drill work, suggesting he will participate sooner rather than later after suffering a gunshot wound in his lower right leg.
The Broncos will go full pads for the first time on Sunday. "That's when you know it's finally football," said Todd Davis, who is taking all first-team reps at inside linebacker alongside Brandon Marshall.
Marshall took over Danny Trevathan's spot.
"It's a little different. It's going to take some time," said Marshall, who missed team drills in OTAs because of a finger injury that required surgery and has since healed. .
.. The punters and kicker didn't have a great day. Incumbent Britton Colquitt, who starred in the playoffs, and rookie Riley Dixon delivered minimal yardage on their first attempts before improving. Colquitt demonstrated better hang time than Dixon. Kicker Brandon McManus, one of the offensive MVPs last season, went 4-for-7 with three straight misses at one point.
... Rookie running back Devontae Booker (knee) continues to increase his activity. He has received turns with the second team. Regarding the runningback stable, Kubiak said Kapri Bibbs and Ronnie Hillman will both play special teams. Bibbs worked on punt coverage Saturday. "I think they have different roles. But Ronnie is definitely doing it (too). If we are going to be a three, four-back team I don't know how that's going to pan out. But (special teams) will be a factor." Juwan Thompson could make it possible for the Broncos to carry only three tailbacks because of his ability to play running back and fullback.
.... Second round defensive tackle Adam Gotsis worked in team drills sooner than expected, an encouraging sign as he recovers from a torn ACL.
... The Broncos quarterbacks attempted several deep passes with mixed results. Cody Latimer dropped one. Bennie Fowler enjoyed a strong day. Kubiak said this is the deepest, most talented receiving corps he's ever had in a training camp.