Inside linebacker Todd Davis was back at practice with the Broncos for the first time since suffering a sprained shoulder during the first week of training camp. It’s a welcome return for a Denver defense that has suffered several key injuries during training camp.

Denver lost backup nose tackle / utility interior lineman Billy Winn for the season with a torn ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener. Zach Kerr will now serve as the primary backup to Domata Peko at nose tackle, as well as playing defensive end where he was lining up before Winn’s injury. The Broncos also added undrafted free agent Nelson Adams (Mississippi State), who was recently waived by Pittsburgh, over the weekend.

The addition of Adams was followed on Saturday with the loss of defensive end Derek Wolfe for what is expected to be the remainder of the preseason with an ankle sprain Wolfe had to be carted off the field, but later said he ‘dodged a bullet.’

Those losses come on top of the injury to outside linebacker Shane Ray, who suffered a torn wrist ligament early in camp. He is targeting a Week 1 return, but could be limited by a club or a cast in the early going.

Getting Davis back into the rotation was a big step forward for the defense.

“I feel good. I’m ready to get back out there,” Davis said on Saturday after putting on the pads for the first time since his injury. “I’m ready to play, so it definitely feels good to get back in pads. It was fun.”

Head Coach Vance Joseph was understandably cautious with Davis in his return to the field, keeping him out of major contact drills.

“Todd’s back,” Joseph said following Saturday’s practice, “it’s a non-contact type of practice for Todd. But Todd’s back working with the ones again. More seven-on-seven than team.”

After sitting out Thursday’s opener, Davis wasn’t surprised that he, or the team as a whole, back in pads for the final training camp practice following the game.

“Not really. I think that’s the mentality [Coach Joseph] is trying to set here. I really wasn’t surprised by it. I know he wants us to be a physical, hard-nosed team, and I like that. I’m all for it.”

The practice was not only a chance for Davis to get back into the action, it was also an opportunity for the team to work out some of the kinks from Thursday night.

“I think we felt that as a team. I felt like we weren’t at our best when we played the Bears. It definitely was a message that we need to step things up,” Davis said.

Davis and the rest of the defense will get a chance this week to step both in practice and in a game against the San Francisco 49ers. The team will travel Tuesday to San Francisco for a pair of joint practices Wednesday and Thursday ahead of their Saturday night preseason matchup.