|06-10-2005, 12:11 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: South of Boston
For Broncos rookies, a playbook is a best friend
Publish Date: 6/10/2005
Learning curve steep
For Broncos rookies, a playbook is a best friend
By Pat Graham
The Daily Times-Call
ENGLEWOOD — When Denver Broncos linebacker Al Wilson gives advice to rookies, it’s not really advice. It’s an order.
“Study that playbook,” Wilson said.
That was his friendly reminder as the rookies left team camp Thursday. The Broncos have a week off before resuming offseason workouts. The team won’t be back together in an official capacity until minicamp July 6-8.
“If you don’t study your playbook and don’t go over it until minicamp, you’re basically going to lose everything you learned up to this point,” Wilson said. “Every few days, pick the playbook up. Keep your skills sharp.”
The message wasn’t lost on second-round draft pick Darrent Williams. The cornerback out of Oklahoma State will be carrying his playbook around in his backpack. He’s got a lot to learn.
“It’s like your first day of school,” Williams said. “You get a new book and you know some of the things, but you really don’t know too much. You have to look at it.”
All in all, rookies like Williams, cornerbacks Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth, offensive lineman Chris Myers, running back Maurice Clarett and kicker Paul Ernster are in the same boat. They’ve been thrown into the turbulent NFL waters and have been asked to start swimming. So far, they’re bobbing along just fine, in coach Mike Shanahan’s estimation.
“Anybody would be lost,” Shanahan said of tossing the kitchen sink at the rookies. “It’s like learning a new language. We’re throwing things at them constantly.”
So the rookies take pride in the little accomplishments. Coming off the field the other day, Foxworth proudly announced he picked off a pass in one-on-one drills against the receivers.
“I had a great day,” said Foxworth, a third-round pick out of Maryland.
Who were you covering?
“I don’t even know, to be honest with you,” he said.
Who threw it?
“I can’t remember,” Foxworth said. “Whenever I make a play, I get so excited. It was a blur. I just knew I had the ball in my hand and people were giving me high-fives. That’s all I really remember.”
Foxworth needs to memorize his playbook a lot better than he recalls interceptions. One thing’s for sure: He has high expectations for himself this season.
“My goal is not to come out here and shoot to be a backup,” he said. “I’m going to shoot to be a starter. You never shoot for second place. If I fall short, that’s what happens.”
Williams doesn’t know how much time he’ll see at cornerback. However, he can make a big impact on special teams.
“We got a lot of veteran guys, so I really don’t plan on playing a lot at corner,” Williams said. “But I plan on contributing on special teams and returning kicks.”
That’s what the Broncos are hoping. They finished in the middle of the pack in punt and kickoff returns last season. Denver hasn’t returned a kick for a touchdown since Deltha O’Neal’s 87-yard run against New England in 2000. O’Neal also has the Broncos’ last punt return for a score, a 57-yard run against the Patriots in 2003.
Williams wants to end that drought. He averaged 27.7 yards on punt returns his senior year for the Cowboys.
“If I get good blocking, I can take it the distance any time,” he said.
Right now, though, he has a more pressing concern: He wants to get the playbook committed to memory.
“I’m going to try to look at my playbook at least once a day,” Williams said.
Wilson will be glad to hear that.
Warren report: If defensive lineman Gerard Warren was a malcontent in Cleveland, the reputation hasn’t followed him to Denver.
Warren, acquired in a trade with Cleveland on March 2, has impressed Shanahan. Never one to dole out compliments, Shanahan raved about Warren on the final day of team camp.
“Right from the beginning, Warren has done an excellent job,” Shanahan said. “He’s been a leader up front on all of the sprints, and just the way he handles himself has been pretty impressive. Hopefully he can keep it up.”
Playing it cautious: Defensive linemen Courtney Brown and Ebenezer Ekuban participated in a limited capacity during team camp the last two weeks, but Shanahan expects them to be ready for minicamp in July.
“They made some strides,” Shanahan said. “They should be ready to go.”
Second-year cornerback Jeff Shoate may be a different story. Shoate’s knee is still not 100 percent healed.
Speaking of knees, running back Quentin Griffin participated in drills all this week. He’s coming back from an ACL tear he sustained on Monday Night Football against Cincinnati.
“Quentin is healthy right now, and he looks like he will be full speed in the July camp,” Shanahan said. “He’s made some big strides.”
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