Bright Beginnings

Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos embark on their quest for the Super Bowl as Training Camp officially opens in Dove Valley.

It was a sunny and humid Wednesday at Dove Valley on the opening day of Broncos Training Camp 2004. Fans started arriving as early as 7:00 am with hopes of catching a first glance of the players to watch competing for the 53 spots on the Broncos roster. Fans scream encouragement and applaud along the side-lines and in the bleachers, "Way to go Champ!" "Alright D.J!" "Nice job Willie!" as Jake Plummer, Danny Kanell and Bradlee Van Pelt throw successive reps.

Wayne King, a resident of Colorado Springs, has been attending Broncos Training Camp for 8 years, beginning with the 1997 season when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl. His first two camps were in Greeley, Colorado with a friend, but six years ago he was joined by his wife and two daughters. They take a week-long family vacation, camping at the nearby Cherry Creek State Park and it has now become a family tradition complete with marshmallows, campfires and friends.

Each year Wayne compiles a scouting report during the week which he brings home to share with friends.

"It's been surprisingly accurate over the years" stated King.

This year he's watching Ashley Lelie with great interest and secretly rooting for Colorado local Bradlee Van Pelt for the back-up quarterback slot, however he did state that "Danny Kanell had a great camp last year and is looking pretty good today, at this point he's the obvious choice."

Broncos Training Camp is a big part of Wayne's football season. A new home salesperson, he must work weekends and has to tape most of the games. Wayne's a passionate fan who believes each year, "They're going all the way to the Super Bowl!"

With Ed McCaffrey's retirement and the resulting pressure on Ashley Lelie, you could see Lelie's focus and intensity today were clearly on the game.

Coach Mike Shanahan remarked, "Anytime you have a veteran player like Ed McCaffrey, I think it's natural to study him, to follow the way he played and the way he handled himself. Now that Ed's gone, people are looking at Ashley Lelie to step up and be the guy. So I think there's more responsibility on his shoulders now. He knows it's time for him to play at the level we all believe he's capable."

Like a General readying his troops for battle, Shanahan barks commands rotating the squads from field to field watching the players' agility and performance while testing their determination, focus and strength.

"I think we had good additions in the off-season, and now's the time to get to work putting all the pieces in the right place and on the same page," Shanahan said. "I think chemistry is unique, and that is the key to playing good defense as your team comes together. We come together and give it up to each other and play as hard as we can every snap and play with pride and accountability for each other."

Training camp has begun, the fans are here, the team is stepping things up, are you ready?

(Broncos Update staff reporter Dianne Harrison Miller contributed to this story.)

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