Denver The cold rain showers that drenched the Denver Broncos and 9,207 die-hard fans during a stadium practice Wednesday couldn’t dampen Chris Harris Jr.’s spirits.
The versatile fourth-year cornerback donned pads for the first time since injuring his left knee in Denver’s playoff win over San Diego on Jan. 12 and was a limited participant the practice at Sports Authority Field.
“I wasn’t tentative at all,” Harris said. “I have confidence. They had to slow me down a couple of times, even in the walk-through.”
The Broncos took Harris off the PUP list Tuesday upon his return from Pensacola, Florida, where he received medical clearance from Dr. James Andrews, who repaired his partially torn ACL after the Super Bowl.
Star receiver Demaryius Thomas also had his first full practice of camp. He participated in the team’s walk-through Monday night after returning from his grandmother’s funeral in Georgia.
Like Harris, Thomas was limited to individual work and 7-on-7s drills but turned into a sideline spectator when the offense and defense squared off in 11-on-11s on a dreary day in which the temperature dipped to 57 degrees — just eight degrees warmer than it was at the Super Bowl in New Jersey.
Harris underwent surgery shortly after the Broncos lost that game to Seattle, so he’s less than six months removed from the operation.
“Everybody always talks about Adrian Peterson’s comeback. They need to talk about my comeback because I came back a lot faster,” Harris said.
Yet, Peterson had an MVP season in his comeback year.
“Then, I’ve got to double the amount of picks that I’ve been having,” Harris said.
Harris had been itching to return to action.
“I just felt good just having a jersey on, feeling like you’re a part of the team,” he said. “I’ve been away from the team really since January, being on IR, and to finally be included with the team and have my helmet on, jersey on, it was an emotional day for me.”
What he didn’t welcome was the foul weather.
“I was like, ‘Man, I would choose to come back on a rainy day like this,”’ Harris said. “I thought it was good to come out here and get in this type of weather and come out here and make my plants and do the little stuff that I need to do. So, I thought it was a good opportunity for me.”
Coach John Fox appreciated the opportunity to get some work in during a steady rain. Usually at this time of year, the monsoon storms that roll over the Rocky Mountains in the afternoon bring lightning.
“It was nice to finally have some rain without that dangerous electricity,” Fox said.
Fox also gave props to the fans, who “were tremendous to weather all that for two hours.”
Tight end Julius Thomas called the weird weather was a mixed blessing.
“It’s fun when you get to run around and get wet a little, but when you’re trying to execute and your coach is expecting it to look the same way as it does when it’s dry, it gets a little bit tougher,” he said.
With the drenched field making it difficult to make hard cuts on routes and runs, Thomas didn’t exactly welcome the break in sweltering days.
“No, I would have taken the 100 and sweaty,” Thomas said. “It’s a little different to be in 60 degrees and rain and wind in the end of July. But it’s part of the game. We played through it and everybody stayed focused.”
NOTES: UFA CB Louis Young was the only casualty, leaving with a strained groin. DEs DeMarcus Ware (knee), Chase Vaughn (knee) and Dennis Latta (hip) sat out along with LB Shaquille Barrett (ankle) and S John Boyett (back). ... CB Kayvon Webster had the play of the day when he jumped Peyton Manning’s throw to Wes Welker for a pick-six.