Over three thousand fans arrived at the Centura Health Training Center for the first publicly open practice to kick off Denver Broncos Training Camp. What did fans see on a scorching morning in Dove Valley? Here are three takeaways from the third day of Broncos Camp.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton regrets some remarks made a few days ago

Sean Payton set the NFL world ablaze for a 24-hour news cycle after his comments about former head coach Nathaniel Hackett and last season’s operation went viral. After Friday’s Centura Health Training Center practice, Payton touched on his comments and their impact, admitting some regret.

“I had one of those moments where I still had my FOX hat on and not my coaching hat,” Payton acknowledged. “I said this to the team in the meeting yesterday: We had a great offseason, relative to that. I’ve been preaching that message, and here I am—the veteran—stepping in it. It was a learning experience for me. It was a mistake, obviously. I needed a little bit more filter. There’s a pound of flesh for these guys, and as a coach, you stick up for them. After a while, we’re past that season last year. I said what I said. I needed a little bit more restraint, and I regret that. That being said, what I told the team is—I think I’m pretty good, relative to working with the media and am pretty savvy. I just had one of those moments. [USA Today reporter] Jarrett [Bell] is a good friend and is really good at his job. [I had] two lattes in the morning. [He’s] the first one I see, and 40 minutes later, I’m regretting it. It is what it is.”

The microscope on the Denver Broncos became remarkably bigger after the comments, but Payton stood his ground surrounding his playoff expectations for the team this season.

“I’m not afraid of the expectation,” Payton reiterated. “I’ve talked with several people about being used to contending for the postseason. You don’t take it for granted. That mindset needs to be present here. I see this as a team that has that ability. It’s our job to bring it out in them.”

This is something the Broncos have been striving to have since they won it all at Super Bowl 50. Payton has been around this current roster long enough to know what type of potential they may possess, and ultimately it’s his job to extract the best out of his players to make that happen.

The mindset for the organization has been ‘We hope to make the playoffs’ for far too long, while Payton views it as ‘we need to make the playoffs’ going forward.

Could Payton’s comments on last year’s operation and Hackett come out with more restraint? Of course, but he wasn’t wrong with what he had said, and many Broncos fans don’t disagree with what he said.

Caden Sterns dazzles with play of the day at Broncos Camp

Perhaps the play of the day during the Denver Broncos first open practice to the public came near the end of the day. Broncos safety Caden Sterns stretched out for a terrific diving one-handed interception.

Sterns got up and was swarmed by his defensive teammates in celebration. Not only was it a great play by Sterns, but it puts how valuable he can be to the defense into greater perspective.

Despite the small sample size he possesses in volume on the field, his production during that time is unbelievable. The biggest question surrounding Sterns has been his health so far through his NFL career, but after having surgery last season, he’s fully healthy and ready to go.

“He’s certainly grasping what we are doing defensively,” Payton said on Friday. “There is less change defensively and structurally. There are some things that are new. Offensively, it is completely different. I think he’s doing well. I think he’s got good instincts, and we’ll just keep progressing with him.”

Sterns is projected to have a significant role on defense at the safety position for Denver. If he continues to make plays at the rate he has been in the regular season and training camp, he’ll quickly emerge as a household name.

Veteran safety Kareem Jackson had a veteran’s day off for Friday’s practice.

The current depth at safety has the Broncos sitting in a fruitful position as the season approaches. Rookie safety JL Skinner had a number change, going from #46 to #34.

Other notable observations from Denver Broncos Training Camp, roster moves

The Denver Broncos defense shined on the day in 7 on 7 and consistently during the team period. However, it’s important to note that it’s difficult to truly evaluate a practice when the pads aren’t on.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton reiterated that everything they do on the field has to simulate what they’ll see in a real game.

“I tell the coaches all of the time, ‘Let’s not be instant evaluators. Let’s be slow to judge. Let’s rotate these guys through with the first, second and third groups. Let’s not get stuck on where we think guys might be.’ Then gradually, we will have the chance—right now it’s, ‘What are you doing? Do you know how to get lined up? Do you understand what we are doing so that when you do have the pads on, and we are in those preseason games or scrimmages, [you know what to do].’”

Prior to the start of practice, the Broncos made several roster moves; they waived wide receiver Nick Williams and signed WR Michael Bandy who has three years of NFL experience. On top of that, the team activated WR Kendall Hinton off of the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, and he was back in attendance at practice.

Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey missed his second consecutive day of practice due to an excused personal matter. Left tackle Garett Bolles was spotted at the start of practice but was not seen during group and team periods. At the end of practice, he made his way out of the locker room.

It’s unclear if anything was bothering Bolles physically, and it will be worth monitoring on Saturday.

Per the NFL’s transaction wire, former Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris had a formal visit with the team. Whether or not he signs on after Eyioma Uwazurike’s suspension will be something to monitor in the coming days as well.

Second-year cornerback Damarri Mathis had several plays on the day in 7 on 7 and team period where he made a play on the football, knocking passes away that resulted in them falling incomplete.

The Denver Broncos will be back on the practice field on Saturday morning for the NFL’s Back Together Weekend.