ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The last time Broncos star left tackle Ryan Clady was involved in joint preseason practices, he got into a fight with current teammate DeMarcus Ware, then of the Dallas Cowboys.
What made those fisticuffs back in 2008 so unusual was that it pitted two of the nicest guys in the NFL.
So when some of his teammates asked Clady about practicing against the Houston Texans this week, Clady had an answer and an admonition ready.
"I'm like, 'There's going to be fights,'" Clady recounted Thursday after another scuffle-filled practice. "It's kind of the nature of the game. When it's not your actual teammate, you lash out and fight. It's one of those things that you've got to prepare for, and hopefully it's not too bad where you've got to end practice."
Nobody got hurt Thursday in the several skirmishes that broke out during team drills between Denver's record-shattering offense and Houston's swaggering defense.
The Texans were without rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who was not seriously injured after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme sent him to the team's medical tent for the final 45 minutes of Wednesday's workout.
"Yeah, he's doing fine," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said of the league's top overall draft pick. "We just held him out today. He'll be fine."
The Broncos were missing slot receiver Wes Welker, excused for the second straight day for personal reasons.
"We will get him back and see what state of mind he's in," Broncos coach John Fox said when asked if Welker will play Saturday against the Texans.
Texans talkative safety D.J. Swearinger was once again in the middle of the biggest fracas Thursday. Tempers flared when running back Montee Ball was shoved after the whistle. Several players ended up on the ground in all the pushing and shoving that followed, including Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who practiced for the first time in a week.
"That's one of the things that you want to try to guard against," said Texans GM Rick Smith, whose team also got into several skirmishes during joint workouts with the Atlanta Falcons last week. "You want to be as competitive and intense as possible without any of the other kind of stuff. ... After three days of going against each other, it's not necessarily a surprise. But you still want to be able to keep your composure."
Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt did just that, staying out of the scrums even after his helmet was swiped off his head Wednesday by tackle Chris Clark, whom he'd beaten in a pass rushing drill.
"I'm a big guy. It's fine," Watt said. "You win on the field. You don't have to fight if you win on the field. When you win the rep, people tend to get chippy, so that's fine."
Watt said he views it as a compliment when an opposing player loses his cool.
"When somebody hits me I don't feel the need to hit back because you can turn on the film, see what happened," Watt said.
Plenty of other players were spoiling for a throwdown.
"Oh yeah, it gets real intense out there," Denver defensive tackle Marvin Austin said. "We've got a couple of chattering guys. They got some guys who talk, the DBs, that's what they do. ... Men always are going to clash and men are going to fight. But we try to keep it to a minimum and let the pads do the talking, especially on Saturday."
O'Brien took exception to the notion the joint practices were chippy.
"I'm from Boston, so when chippy was uses that was with the old big, bad Bruins in the '80s," O'Brien said. "Chippy was a hockey term, not a football term. It was competitive. Two teams going at it. Two teams that I felt took care of each other. Two good teams working against each other as far as being good sportsmen and things like that. I thought it was a good three days."
So did Fox.
Therefore, both coaches are leaning toward taking a different approach to this third preseason game after their teams took 160 snaps together during the week.
Rather than playing the starters into the third quarter in what's traditionally the final actual tuneup for the regular season, they will likely take longer looks at younger players fighting for roster spots.