View Full Version : Getting Their Feet Wet

Denver Native (Carol)
05-01-2010, 08:21 PM

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Consider it rookie orientation.

Sure, plenty of the playbook is thrown at them, and they're evaluated in practice, but that's not all this weekend's rookie minicamp is about.

"We want them to get familiar with the way we do things, our program here, all the people in the building here," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "Now they know our cafeteria, our training room and our equipment managers. Right now they're getting their first workout in with our strength and conditioning people. It's really more trying to get their feet wet so when they come back it's not a hundred things different. Hopefully they leave here and kind of know all those things and have that under their belt so when they come back we can be solely focused on football."

On the football side of things, McDaniels said he saw plenty of mistakes -- as is to be expected from rookies -- but they diminished even from day one to day two.

"Like every rookie minicamp there is a lot for these guys to learn, a lot for them to do better," he said. "They got their feet wet and they got an opportunity out there to get some things we wanted them to do. We saw some improvement from yesterday morning to this afternoon, and hopefully we can carry that into May when they come back with the veterans."


Of the rookies getting his feet especially wet as the only quarterback in the minicamp is first-round draft pick Tim Tebow.

"First of all, he's a rookie, and he's made his share of mistakes out here, which everybody does," McDaniels said. "His work ethic is what we thought it was. Curfew is like a bad word for him, and it's not because he wants to be in a tavern somewhere. He's going to work himself into situations where he can be successful."

Tebow has had an opportunity to work closely with the head coach as well as quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, something the rookie isn't taking for granted.

"Our coaching staff, they know what they're talking about and they're great coaches," Tebow said. "I'm excited to learn from them. I'm just soaking up as much as I can right now and doing whatever they tell me to do."

The quarterback has spent the past few days working on his footwork, drops and cadences, identifying the middle linebacker and making sure the correct protection is called, all things he admits he needs work on. He has had a camera focused on him during the camp -- as has every player at every position -- and it is being used to help identify what he can work on in his much-talked-about throwing motion, as well.

McDaniels said he and the team are excited about the potential for improvement in all those facets of his game.

"We've got a long way to go, but we think that if you put a guy with great work ethic together with some people that -- hopefully we know what we're talking about -- maybe we can make something pretty productive out of it," he said.


In addition to the team's draft picks and college free agents, two more players are participating in this weekend's minicamp -- punters Britton Colquitt and A.J. Trapasso.

McDaniels said the competition has a long way to go, but the team is excited with what they've seen from the young specialists.

"The ball is traveling a long way out there between the two of them," he said. "Both of them have strong legs. They both really have a lot of ability and a lot of talent. Now it's about molding some of that into consistency and being able to do the things under pressure that we are going to ask them to do."

Trapasso was a rookie in 2009 who split the season on the practice squad with Tampa Bay and Tennessee. He entered the NFL with Tennessee as a college free agent on May 1 after being a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award at Ohio State University. He was involved in two of the most talked-about plays of the 2009 preseason when he scored a touchdown on a fake punt for Tennessee in the Hall of Fame Game, then hit the scoreboard in Cowboys Stadium before a preseason bout in Dallas.

Colquitt, who was originally signed by the Broncos as a college free agent before last season, spent Week 17 on the active roster and did not see any game action. He played 43 career games at the University of Tennessee, punting 209 times for 8,897 yards -- an average of 42.6 yards per attempt -- with 73 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. He had just one punt blocked for his collegiate career.


Even with nine players added through the draft and 19 more picked up as college free agents, the team kept its eye on the free agent market, picking up inside linebacker Akin Ayodele last Monday.

"There are a lot of people that are still out there and available, it's just a matter of whether or not you think they fit your team," McDaniels said. "He was a guy that we evaluated, and certainly because we didn't do much in the draft in that area, it made sense for us to go ahead and do it."

The team now has five inside linebackers in the roster, including the recently re-signed Nick Greisen.

Ayodele, a ninth-year veteran, has never missed a game in his career one of three starting linebackers in the league to play in every game since 2002. He has started at least 11 games in each of the past seven seasons.

He played in Miami for the past two seasons starting 15 of 16 games in 2009 after playing for Dallas and Jacksonville.

"He's played in this style of a defense," McDaniels said. "He's had to do a lot of those things that we ask our players to do inside. I don't think it will be unfamiliar to him when he gets here and really gets going through the system."

In his career, he has played in 128 career games with 104 starts, amassing 834 tackles, 9.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries.


Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, drafted in the first and third rounds, respectively, have not participated in this weekend's camp, but have been on the field soaking in the practices from the sidelines.

McDaniels said there is no timetable for their return.

"We're not going to rush anything," he said. "We'd rather that they be fully healthy and ready to compete than mostly healthy and thrown out there."

The head coach also addressed Ryan Clady's offseason surgery, which came after an injury reportedly suffered during a game of basketball.

"Everybody plays basketball -- I don't know if every football player does, but there are a lot of people that do," McDaniels said. "You just hope that something like that doesn't happen and you hope that they don't do that and end up injured. But I don't think I'm going to put out a letter to the team saying they aren't allowed to play hoops during the offseason."

Like with Thomas and Decker, McDaniels said there is no timetable for Clady's return to the field, but he is hopeful that other players will step up in his absence.

"Any player who has had an offseason procedure, we'll be hopeful that they can come back as soon as they possibly can," he said. "We have a lot of people here who play those spots, and more than one player who has had an offseason procedure, so we'll make do."

Click here to watch McDaniels' full press conference. (on link)