|08-06-2008, 03:00 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Broncos rookie WR looks to make impact
Broncos rookie WR looks to make impact
By Brian Howell
ENGLEWOOD — There were plenty of big-name receivers available at the NFL Draft in April when the Denver Broncos went on the clock with the 42nd pick.
Early Doucet, DeSean Jackson, Dexter Jackson, Malcolm Kelly, Mario Manningham and Limas Sweed were all sitting there, ready to hear their names called.
All of them remained available after the Broncos took the lesser-known Eddie Royal, a short, speed-burning receiver from Virginia Tech.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Royal said of being taken ahead of where he was projected to go. “I worked hard in the offseason, whether it was the combine, the Senior Bowl, the interviews. I came out and showed them how much I love football and how much I could play.”
Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan has said all along that Royal was the man he wanted. So far, it’s easy to see why.
“He has a lot of talent, a lot of confidence,” Shanahan said. “We know what he can do when the ball is in his hands with the punt returns and the kickoff returns. He’s got a burning desire to make the starting lineup. He is very impressive.”
Royal is already listed atop the depth chart at punt returner and kick returner. He’d like to work his way into the regular rotation at receiver, too.
“I just want to show them that I’m an all-around football player,” Royal said. “I don’t want to be labeled as anything. I just want to come out and show them every day that I’m a consistent, reliable receiver.”
Royal, who, at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds is the smallest receiver on the Broncos roster, has heard the criticisms before.
“I’ve heard it all,” he said. “‘He’s just a returner. He’s small.’ You use negatives and turn them into positives.”
He’s already making an impression as a receiver, but there’s no question he comes into his rookie year with the Broncos wanting him to excel as a returner.
“Because of his experience, he really shows great awareness, besides all of his physical attributes,” Broncos special teams coach Scott O’Brien said.
O’Brien and Shanahan rave about Royal’s speed, but there’s more to him.
“No. 1, it’s being able to be very elusive in a short area,” O’Brien said. “He has that physical ability because he’s not a stiff athlete. No. 2, he has the awareness after he catches the ball, which puts him a step ahead of everything. With that comes a lot of instincts and great eye control, and he has demonstrated that, in college on film and even out here with us.”
Royal returned 10 kicks for touchdowns in high school, and he had three return touchdowns (all on punts) at Virginia Tech.
“Being a return man is just going out and making plays,” he said. “You’ve got to be a play maker to be a returner, and you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to want to score every time you touch the ball.”
O’Brien said Royal is a rare athlete because he’s good at returning punts and kickoffs.
“It is harder to catch punts than it is kickoffs because the ball is spinning and breaking on punts as it’s going up and coming down,” O’Brien said. “Kickoffs are usually end over end and usually on line. There’s been great, great kickoff returners that could never punt return. He can do both, no question.”
Royal is hoping to prove he can catch passes, too. But, whether he’s lining up as a receiver, punt returner or kick returner, Royal is pleased to be with the Broncos.
“Every day I have to come out and prove what I can do,” he said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of being here. I think you have to think that way. You have to have faith in yourself that you can get here. It’s no surprise to me. It’s what I’ve been working for my whole life. Now I’m just living my dream.”
|08-06-2008, 08:02 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Aug 2007
Im proud to say that the Chicago Bears selected Eddie Royal in Rd 4 of the OM mock draft.