Broncos Update Insider - 8/3/10

Last year, the Broncos had a pair of first-round picks, and two holdouts. Robert Ayers' holdout didn't last long, but Knowshon Moreno stayed away from camp for a few days while his contract was worked out.

This year the Broncos' front office, which was also trying to hammer out a lucrative extension for outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, deserves a lot of credit for getting quarterback Tim Tebow and receiver Demaryius Thomas signed before the first full-squad practice of camp. Now those two first-round picks have to prove they can get up to speed quickly.

"Our expectations for the rookies are that hopefully they can come in and learn and try to get better every day, because certainly none of them are ready to help us win right now," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said.

Thomas is the one who will contribute immediately. The Broncos are thin at receiver, and Thomas has a ways to go in Denver's offense. He was in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech last year and ran only a few routes. Denver's offense is much more complicated, and he needed a full camp to learn the intricacies of it.

Tebow's development is not as pressing for 2010, but certainly more interesting. The former Heisman Trophy winner is the third quarterback, behind Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. He won't start right away, but could be included in some specialized packages to take advantage of his athletic ability.

The Broncos have tried quelling the enthusiasm surrounding Tebow, who might be the most hyped Denver player since John Elway came to town 27 years ago.

"Our expectations for him are to just compete and try to learn and do the things that we are asking the other guys to do," McDaniels said. "What other peoples' expectations are of him or how much he'll play or contribute or compete to play early -- I don't really know. I'm not that worried about it. I think if he's the best player at some point in some area, then he'll be able to affect the team."

The good news is Tebow -- who seemed to be struggling under the weight of learning a very complicated offense during offseason practices -- did some good things during the rookies-only portion of training camp before the full team reported.

"He's certainly getting the hang of some of the things we are doing and we are working on -- specific reads and drills that mimic some plays we've installed and talked about and shown a lot of film the last few days," McDaniels said.

Tebow doesn't appear to be affected much by expectations or pressure, which shouldn't be too surprising considering he was one of the most popular college football players ever.

"I think I've had somewhat pressure on me the last few years and I don't really ever think about it because all I worry about is what I can control and that's my attitude, my effort and my focus," Tebow said. "Those are all things that I can control -- I can't control anything else so I'm really not going to spend much time worrying about it."

CAMP CALENDAR: The Broncos rookies reported to camp on July 26. The first full-squad practice was on Aug. 1. There is a public scrimmage at Invesco Field at Mile High on Aug. 7. The final practice of training camp will take place Aug. 19.

NOTES, QUOTES

After months of negotiations, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil officially became the face of the Denver Broncos a few days before training camp.

He signed a six-year, $61.5 million extension, the biggest deal the Broncos have handed out since Champ Bailey's extension in 2004. The signing was important for the Broncos, because coach Josh McDaniels' tenure has been marked by talented players like Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall departing. The Broncos needed to make a statement that Dumervil's work ethic and demeanor off the field are the traits McDaniels wants in his program.

McDaniels mentioned Dumervil and Chris Kuper, Denver's right guard who also signed a contract extension this offseason, as players who set the tone for his program, and those players will be rewarded.

"I can't say enough about Elvis and Chris and the professionalism that all of our players have displayed, but especially those two in a situation where they didn't have to do that," McDaniels said. "I thought they represented themselves and the organization with a lot of class."

--Even though the Broncos faded late last season after Josh McDaniels' first camp, which featured a lot of hitting, McDaniels didn't plan on changing anything this season.

"It's going to be a physical camp," McDaniels said. "There's no question about that."

--Quarterbacks usually don't get hit -- or do any hitting -- in training camp, but rookie Tim Tebow wanted to get some contact in practice.

"I am looking forward to it -- it may be a negative of mine is that I look forward to that and I'm a quarterback so you kind of have to stay calm but it is fun once Sunday gets out here and everybody is hitting -- I'll get excited too," Tebow said.

Tebow probably won't do much hitting in camp, but McDaniels liked his attitude.

"I think that's part of his demeanor," McDaniels said. "I think that is also part of what he brings to your football team."

--Quarterback Kyle Orton said he was looking forward to seeing the offense continue to improve after having a strong offseason.

"I think I was so excited how we finished OTAs," Orton said. "You know, I think that's the most confidence this offense has had -- this group has had as a unit. I think it's just big for us to start off fast this camp and just continue with that confidence and that's going to go a long way for us."

--Left tackle Ryan Clady's knee injury will be a storyline for the Broncos throughout camp, as he tries to get ready for the season opener.

"I think he's working really diligently to try to get back on the field as soon as he can and there's no timetable for that but Ryan is working extremely hard to put himself in a position to play as soon as he can," McDaniels said.

--Broncos rookie receiver Eric Decker, who went to the University of Minnesota, once again worked out with Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald this summer in Minneapolis.

"To be surrounded by guys like that -- Larry Fitzgerald -- he brought in Cris Carter, Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice last year and just to learn from those guys, just the little subtle things, minor details," Decker said. "It's unbelievable how much more confidence you have in yourself when you surround yourself with those guys and you know that you're working as hard as them and picking up little things, cues that they've picked up over the years and experienced and they've been successful doing it."

QUOTE TO NOTE:/b> "For me, it was an opportunity for me to be a Bronco for years to come, so I am excited about that." -- OLB Elvis Dumervil on his six-year contract extension.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos traded running back J.J. Arrington to Philadelphia for linebacker Joe Mays in a one-for-one player swap. Mays could help the Broncos right away on special teams. Arrington's departure leaves the Broncos somewhat thin at tailback after Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. A young unproven player like Lance Ball will have the chance to earn a role.

PLAYER NOTES

--OT Ryan Clady started camp on the non-football injury list. Clady hurt his knee playing basketball this offseason, although the team hopes he can play by the season opener.

--LB Bruce Davis was released before camp. The former Steelers third-round draft pick was expected to help on special teams.

--OL Chris Marinelli was released before camp. He faced an uphill battle to make the roster.

--WR Eric Decker avoided starting training camp on the PUP list. Decker was recovering from a foot injury that ended his final college season and hadn't practiced in the offseason.

--OL Zane Beadles was the last Broncos' draft pick to sign before the team's two first-round picks. Denver had all of its draft picks signed before the first full-squad practice.

EXPECTED BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The Broncos don't have too many open competitions for starting spots. Yes, Josh McDaniels likes to say that every player is fighting for a starting spot, but in reality, most of the Broncos' starting spots this season are locked up. One of the more significant battles is at nickel cornerback, and there are a few candidates. Veteran Nate Jones seems to be the favorite after signing from Miami this offseason. The Broncos would like second-year cornerback Alphonso Smith to make a jump, but he has a lot to prove. The intriguing option is Perrish Cox, an impressive rookie who slipped to the fifth round not because of physical concerns, but off-field issues.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: The Broncos haven't committed to whether Russ Hochstein will play guard or center. He'll compete for a starting spot somewhere, and it probably depends which rookie -- center J.D. Walton or guard Zane Beadles -- looks more impressive. Hochstein will slide in next to Denver's best rookie on the line. Denver also is looking at kick returners. Eddie Royal is the favorite, but a player like Perrish Cox could push him.

ROOKIE REPORT: Demaryius Thomas is impressive physically, and didn't show any ill effects of a foot injury that knocked him out of practice for a few weeks this offseason. He has to correct some of the drops he had in the spring. ... Tim Tebow's ceiling this season is as Denver's second quarterback, if he can beat out Brady Quinn. If nothing else, Tebow could play in special packages such as short-yardage plays. ... Offensive lineman Zane Beadles could compete for a starting spot at left guard, but it's possible he could move to tackle to provide much-needed depth there. ... C J.D. Walton has a great opportunity to start the season opener. Since the merger, no rookie center has started opening day for the Broncos. ... WR Eric Decker is practicing at the start of camp, a good sign as he returns from a foot injury. He could get playing time right away at a thin position. ... G Eric Olsen will battle during camp to solidify a spot in the two-deep.

INJURY REPORT: RB Knowshon Moreno was carted off the field with a leg injury in Denver's first full practice. The extent of the injury was not known immediately. ... OT Ryan Clady is improving but not yet ready to practice because of a knee injury. He might not return until just before the season opener. ... LB Darrell Reid is still recovering from knee surgery and won't be able to practice until later in camp. ... DT Jamal Williams started camp on the PUP because of an undisclosed reason. Williams is either nursing an injury or did not pass a conditioning test. Josh McDaniels did say it was not a long-term issue with Williams.



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