View Full Version : Similar plots for Rice, Clarett
07-30-2005, 01:36 AM
Similar plots for Rice, Clarett
Vet, rookie both must battle for spot with Broncos
By Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
July 30, 2005
ENGLEWOOD — The number of Day One was 21.
That's how many NFL training camps Jerry Rice has now participated in. It's also the age of Maurice Clarett.
The Denver Broncos didn't make a lot of changes on the offensive side of the ball during an otherwise aggressive offseason, but the franchise did find itself in the national spotlight after signing the greatest receiver of all time at the age of 42 and drafting the litigious rookie running back in the third round.
Financially, neither decision was much if a risk for the Broncos. Rice became a very rich man several contracts ago and will be paid the league minimum; Clarett signed an unusual incentive-based deal on the eve of camp that did not include a signing bonus.
Both men say the opportunity to simply play football is the real motivation for them in 2005.
07-30-2005, 01:36 AM
"I'm just fortunate to still be able to be doing what I'm doing out here and to be a part of something real special," Rice said Friday morning after the Broncos' first practice. "I like the attitude on this team. I like the veterans. I like how professional this team is. You can see guys out there working. It's going to pay off in the long term."
The other 31 teams in the league avoided picking up Clarett and his considerable baggage on the first day of the draft. After starting on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team as a freshman, the talented tailback fell out of favor with the program, was kicked off the team and later sued the NFL, unsuccessfully, to gain early admittance to the draft.
Friday was the first time in more than two years that Clarett took the field with a team for a preseason camp.
"Feels more serious," Clarett said when asked about the difference between the Big Ten and the Broncos. "It's a bigger goal. The short-team goal is taking things day-by-day, but the ultimate goal is to win games and get into the postseason."
If Clarett can prove his critics wrong by showing the maturity and dedication required to have success in this league, then he will get paid more like a first-round pick. He can collect his expected $411,000 signing bonus in the final three years of his contract in workout bonuses and an extra $1 million this season if he rushes for 1,000 yards.
But in order to make a major impact this season, Clarett will have to beat out Tatum Bell, Mike Anderson, Quentin Griffin and Ron Dayne for the starting spot. During the afternoon practice rookie cornerback Darrent Williams, the second-round pick from Oklahoma State who signed a four-year contract on Thursday that included a $1.275 signing bonus, stripped the ball from the former 233-pound Buckeye.
07-30-2005, 01:36 AM
"I know that I still have a lot of work to do," Clarett said. "There are definitely plenty of things that I do not know and I could also be in better condition, especially with controlling my weight. Right now, I know that the best thing that I can do is focus on this next month and practice hard every single day. I am not going to look into tomorrow or anything else. I am going to focus in the meetings and learn as much as I can in practice."
Rice has always enjoyed practice, although he was given Friday afternoon off by Mike Shanahan. The future Hall of Famer says putting in extra work when conditioning and studying the playbook is the reason why he holds the NFL records for catches (1,549), yards (22,895) and touchdowns (197).
Despite the unmatched rèsumè — Rice takes up 18 pages in the media guide while Clarett's biography nearly fits on one page — employee No. 19 must earn a roster spot just like any 21-year-old rookie.
"I always compete," said Rice, who won his last Super Bowl in 1994 in with Shanahan calling the plays as San Francisco's offensive coordinator. "Even back in the glory days with the Niners, I felt like when I went to camp I had to prove myself all over again. The only thing is that I was looking at the roster and it said 'wide receivers,' and I looked and there was that big 21 there (under experience). That scared me to death compared to all those other guys."