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“Bubba Caldwell has excellent speed, has a rare speed to really get deep,” Manning said. “Corners, you can tell when they’re covering him they’re going to maybe be off a little bit more knowing that if you miss one step he can be right by you. And he’s obviously adjusting to a new offense like all of us are. I like working with Bubba. He’s a hard worker and really has a lot of explosive plays in him, I think.”

After Decker, Thomas and Caldwell, there’s Manning’s old pal Brandon Stokley, leaving one or two roster spots for the rest of the receivers to fight over.

Nagging injuries have hit the back of that receiving corps with Greg Orton (ankle), D’Andre Goodwin (foot) and Tyler Grisham (knee) joining Decker on the sideline Thursday. The Broncos brought in Cameron Kenney off waivers from Seattle to fill in.

Manning’s timing hasn’t been crimped by the steady stream of receivers hobbling off the field, however, and he said he’s pleased with the progress the offense has made in the first week of training camp.

“That’s a process. It starts in the offseason: OTAs, minicamp, training camp and really throughout the preseason. I think you learn a little bit more about each guy every time you throw to him,” Manning said. “Obviously, I’ve thrown a ton of passes throughout my career to both Jacob (Tamme) and Brandon, so it’s nothing you can really rush. It takes practices, it takes different scenarios, different types of situations, two-minute, red zone, third down and the more game-like situations, which is what we’re doing more of now.”

Also helping Manning get up to speed is a stout secondary led by Champ Bailey.

“I’ve said that all along, it’s a great challenge going against our defense. There’s a lot of speed out there, a lot of experience,” Manning said. “… And so it’s a good challenge every day. We’re going to win some battles; they’re going to win some battles. But it’s good. It’s making the Broncos better and I know it’s really good for our receivers and for our timing.”

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio doesn’t relish facing Manning every day in practice, but, hey, it’s better than seeing him across the field on Sundays like he did so often while coaching the Jaguars.

“He was a thorn in my side when I was in Jacksonville. I’m happy he’s on my side now,” Del Rio said. “… He’s one of the better quarterbacks to ever play. He’s got tremendous command of everything he’s doing with the offense and he’s very demanding of guys around him, which is awesome. It’s really excellent work for our defense to be stressed every day with a premiere quarterback approaching his job the way he does.”

Notes: S Quinton Carter isn’t only dealing with a pulled right hamstring from his nasty fall inside the team’s practice bubble last week but also a knee injury. … RT Orlando Franklin, who sustained a concussion last weekend, returned to the field Thursday night. … DE Jason Hunter is getting snaps with the starters opposite Elvis Dumervil, dropping former first-round draft pick Robert Ayers to second team. “I love Jason,” Del Rio said. “Jason is a rugged defensive lineman; that’s what we’re looking for with our defensive line. He plays with great temperament, toughness, attitude. Every day he brings it with passion. I haven’t seen him yet not be ramped up and ready to play hard and tough. So that’s why he’s running with the 1s right now.”


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