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Denver Native (Carol)
08-04-2009, 09:45 AM
http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.php?id=334&storyID=9193

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Fresh off a standout rookie campaign, Eddie Royal appears to have already made a strong impression on Head Coach Josh McDaniels.

So much so that following Monday morning's practice session, McDaniels didn't hesitate to praise the agile second-year wide receiver.

"I really like Eddie Royal a lot," he said. "Eddie is very smart -- one of the smartest receivers I have been around -- and we have quite a few smart ones here."

Unaware McDaniels had dubbed him one of the "smartest receivers" he's worked with, Royal was a bit taken aback by the compliment.

"I didn't know that," he said. "It's great that Coach thinks that about you. I'm just going to come out here and try to get better every day and learn something more about the offense each day."

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound wideout doesn't look as if he's missed a beat since setting several Broncos rookie records last season with 91 receptions, 980 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. On the practice field, he seems to be adapting to the new offensive system just fine. With Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley sitting out Monday's morning session, Royal stood out, snagging catch after catch during 11-on-11s.

Royal has yet to learn what his final role will be in the team's new offensive system, but he's hopeful he can turn in a 100-catch season.

"That's what I'm working for," he said.

Through four days of training camp, McDaniels said he has been impressed with Royal's route running and trustworthy hands. He's also been pleased to discover that the second-year player is a student of the game.

"He learns more and more every day," McDaniels said. "(He) gets better every day, works hard every day, has a great attitude and (is a) great team player, great teammate and a great guy to coach."

AYERS READY TO COMPETE

First-round draft pick Robert Ayers arrived at Dove Valley on Monday and, after inking a deal with the club, partook in a conditioning test at team headquarters. He did not participate in the team's evening practice, but did address the media following the conclusion of the nightcap session.

Ayers, who admitted that being out of the first few days of camp was a stressful situation, plans to immediately make up for the lost time.

"I'm willing to put (the) last couple practices in the past and try to catch up and make my name in the NFL," Ayers said.

"Getting to the NFL is phase one," he continued. "The next step is to become a big name in the NFL, and that's what I want to do. I want to make my name a household name, and I want to win games -- I want to win championships. I feel like with a lot of guys around me, we can get that done. If I play my best, then that helps the team. So if we all work together, we can get things done."

As players bumped into Ayers as they walked onto the practice field, they reconnected with the outside linebacker/defensive end, chatting with him as he returned from the weight room. After using the day to get reacclimated to the team, Ayers expects to get down to business on the field during Tuesday's practice. He also expects a little more razzing from his teammates when he actually hits the practice field.

"Right now it's just 'Congratulations,' you know, but I'll see the real welcome tomorrow," he laughed.

A NEW APPROACH

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan stopped to talk with the media on his way off the field Monday following the club's evening practice.

Since arriving at Dove Valley in late January, Nolan has been busy altering the defense's style of play -- implementing a 3-4 scheme designed to cause havoc across the field.

Nolan began his NFL coaching career with the Broncos in 1987. Now, the veteran defensive mind is back in orange and blue, in charge of reconstructing a defensive unit which finished 29th in the NFL in total defense and 30th in points allowed per game in 2008.

He believes there are a number of reasons his unit will be better than last year's defensive group.

"First off, to be good on defense, you need the whole team to be good, just like on offense," Nolan said. "It is a team thing. If you are on the field a long time, it is hard to be good because you get exhausted and all those things. I would imagine, as a team, we will take care of business there I have got confidence in not only our coaches that are surrounding me, but also the players and everything we are doing. It is just a matter of working."

With an array of new players -- some playing new positions for the first time -- Nolan admits the defense has plenty of work to do in the coming weeks to make a smooth transition to his scheme. Still, he believes the unit will be just fine if they take things one week at a time.

"That is where we start, and if we do that, I think we will end in a good place," he said.

ONE REP AT A TIME

With a handful of veterans sitting out the team's morning session, a number of players were able to receive additional reps.

LaMont Jordan was one of those individuals.

As Correll Buckhalter sat out the morning practice due to a coach's decision, Jordan -- who said he came to Denver to compete for the starting job -- used the extra work to his advantage. With temperatures the hottest they've been since camp started, the 5-foot-10, 242-pounder used the additional time on the field to work on his conditioning.

More importantly, the former 1,000-yard back viewed his increased time with the first-unit as a chance to make a strong impression on the coaching staff.

"(It's) really an opportunity to show the coaches that, 'Hey, I belong here,'" Jordan said.

For more on Day 4 of training camp, check out the Broncos TV feature here, or watch above. For pictures of the day, check out the photo gallery here.

The team will be back on the field for one practice on Tuesday. The session is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. MDT.