Royal the surprise of camp

The biggest revelation for the Denver Broncos in training camp has been the play of receiver Eddie Royal.

If there were any doubts about Royal, who was a second-round pick, and his ability to carry his fantastic play during training camp into game situations, he answered those against the Cowboys in the second preseason game.

Royal caught a pair of passes for 67 yards. On one, he turned cornerback Mike Jenkins around on a great move and got past him for a 35-yard gain. Later, he won a jump ball against Cowboys cornerback Anthony Henry on a pass slightly behind him for a 32-yard catch. Each catch set up a touchdown.

"The kid's amazing," receiver Brandon Marshall said.

Royal was drafted with the idea he would contribute right away as a punt and kickoff returner, with the chance to play some at slot receiver. He is 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, so there were questions whether he could play outside at receiver.

Royal made a quick impact in camp. He made at least one big play almost every day in practice. He climbed quickly up the depth chart and before the first preseason game found himself with the first team, opposite Marshall and ahead of veterans Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert. He was the first rookie receiver in Broncos history to start a preseason opener.

One of the reasons the Broncos drafted Royal in the second round was his maturity and work ethic, which has been an asset. Royal worked hard in the offseason to pick up the offense, which is a huge challenge for a rookie receiver. He learned quickly and hasn't made many glaring mistakes since the start of camp.

"I came in and the thing with me, I didn't want to be looked at as a rookie," Royal said. "You don't want to be out there on the field making rookie mistakes. I want that feeling that somebody could look out on the field and not know that I'm a rookie."

Royal could have a huge impact, especially early in the season. Marshall has been suspended three games by the NFL for a violation of its conduct policy, but that could be reduced to two games. Jackson moved over to Marshall's "X" position and should slide into the starting lineup when Marshall is out.

Royal hasn't done anything to lose his grip on the starting job at the "Z" position. Before the game against Dallas, the Cowboys had two days of joint practices against the Broncos, and Royal routinely made catches against Dallas' starting defense.

Royal's determination was evident when he was young, when he worked hard to overcome his lack of size. He became a star in high school and in college at Virginia Tech, and he looks like he could be an every-down receiver for the Broncos for years to come.

"I always saw the big picture and knew what I wanted to do," Royal said. "No matter who believed in me or not, I had the confidence in myself that I would find a way to make it. That if I did everything perfect, I should make it."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp officially came to an end on Friday. They had two days of joint practices against the Cowboys before the end of camp.



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