|09-06-2007, 05:20 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
'Hot 97' Storms into Dove Valley
By Andrew Mason
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Some players are quiet storms. Simeon Rice is a Category 5 hurricane.
So the idea of playing out the string on an often brilliant NFL career is anathemic to the 12-year veteran.
Sure, the shoulder he injured last year and the toll of over a decade in pro football might pain him. He likely has fewer sacks in front of him than in his past. He might only be able to provide a "brief shot in the arm," as he said Wednesday.
But he can't be ordinary -- even if it requires snapping the last hinges that keep together an iron will in the process.
Average might suffice for some. Never will it be enough for Simeon Rice.
"I can't just walk in and be a guy," Rice said. "I've got to be 'Hot 97.' I've got to bring that funk, that fire. That's what I do. So it's not going to be easy. It's not like riding a bike. It's a game of skill that has to be built back.
"I wouldn't have signed if I didn't feel like I could play the game," he said. "It's just how much I can give and the impact and performance level and production. That's always been duly noted. So for those factors in itself, it's going to be something that I'm going to have to springboard.
That process began Wednesday afternoon when he grabbed his Broncos helmet and walked onto the practice field for a two-hour session. Clad in the orange and blue that was once his battle colors at the University of Illinois, Rice made it through the entire practice and then lingered for over 20 more minutes on the field.
"It's going to take him a while to get used to our defense and feel comfortable with the system," Head Coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's working right now to get some pass-rushing techniques in and get a little extra work."
That extra work entailed practicing pass-rush moves with practice-squad offensive lineman Cliff Washburn, receiving extra tutelage from defensive-line coach Jacob Burney and finally running windsprints until ominous skies opened with a late afternoon deluge on Dove Valley.
It was almost as though the weather was ordained on high. Some claps of thunder, some streaks of lightning and a burst of rain. Collectively, they made almost -- almost -- as forceful an arrival as "Hot 97."
Sometimes the electric shock of lightning can revive, rather than destroy. Rice thinks that might be the case for himself.
"I feel like a rookie," he said.
But that also translates to the new defensive scheme that greets him.
"I'm a newbie in every sense of it," Rice said. "So I'm learning. It's a learning process. But I know about football and I know about playing well and dominating and those are the things that I'm going to rely on when it's time for me to perform."
Assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates expects nothing less -- and believes that Rice's addition will open new possibilities for the defenders that surround him.
"When you've got a guy that is a special player," Bates said, "it makes the other guys more effective because they have to account for Simeon.
"Any time a player like Simeon becomes available -- he's definitely a plus for our program."
Of course, Rice, as is his wont, expressed the same sentiment colorfully.
"It's a shot in the arm -- a B-12 shot," he said.
Whether that shot can be fired Sunday remains to be determined. Shanahan said he hoped Rice could see "15-20 plays" worth of action, but both he and Bates said the practices on Thursday and Friday would determine Rice's potential usefulness.
"I'm not sure," Rice said. "I'm just trying to get my legs back. I'm taking it real slow."
But sometimes the slowest storms can be the strongest.
|09-06-2007, 07:59 AM||#3|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
If Rice is on the blind side of the QB this will help Dumerville out immensly. All the extra attention will be focused on Rice. Elvis is going to have 15 sacks this year.