Denver Broncos safety Quinton Carter returned to practice Monday after being sidelined since July 27 because of a hamstring injury and subsequent knee surgery to remedy discomfort he'd felt in the joint for months.

"Today is really the first day I got some change of direction and whatnot, at a different level of speed," said Carter, who was held out of the team periods but took part in individual work. "I felt good out there today, so I'm really excited."

Carter hurt his hamstring after diving for a pass during the Broncos' second training-camp practice, and subsequent examination revealed that a minor arthroscopic procedure on his knee would help him function pain-free after working through the pain during offseason practices.  Since the hamstring injury was going to cost him multiple weeks of practice anyway, he elected to undergo the procedure.

But it came at a cost: his spot on the depth chart. During his recovery, Carter dropped from the first team to the second.  He and Rahim Moore worked together as the first-team safeties during the July 27 practice and he started the Broncos' last 11 regular season games in 2011 and both playoff games.

Now, Moore and Mike Adams are the starting safeties, and Still, Carter wasn't worried that his previous job wasn't waiting for him.

"I'm not even on the depth chart in my eyes right now. That's where I'm at," Carter said. " My mentality (is that) I'm at the bottom, so I've got to work from there and try to get back to where I left off last season."

Also back at practice was RB Ronnie Hillman, who acknowledges he is not yet at full strength. Hillman has yet to carry the football in either preseason game to date because of a nagging hamstring injury, but did get some extra work with Peyton Manning on a side field Monday.

Not practicing: DE Jason Hunter (torn triceps muscle), RG Chris Kuper (broken forearm), safety Jim Leonhard (knee), DT Kevin Vickerson (concussion), WR Andre Caldwell (ribs), CB Joshua Moore (ankle) and LBs Mike Mohamed (hamstring) and Keith Brooking (hamstring) all sat out.  

Back to work: In addition to Carter, LB Danny Trevathan practiced for the first time since injuring his ankle in the preseason opener at Chicago on Aug. 9.  "Everybody said he came off of retirement, so we were kind of joking around with him, LB Joe Mays said.  CB Tracy Porter also returned after being sidelined with an illness last week.

For up-to-the-minute Broncos updates, follow Andrew Mason on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLDEN and @MaxBroncos.