Camp Day 1: Shaking off the Rust

Kyle McCarthy

The football was just beyond Kyle McCarthy's grasp early in practice. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Everything looked in place for the Broncos’ first rehearsal of the 2011 season. The sun shone, the fields were lined, the grass was trimmed and approximately 1,500 fans were gathered on the tree-lined knolls bordering the west practice field.

Just like any other kickoff to any other season.

But an offseason without organized team activities and classroom sessions with coaches began showing its impact early in practice. Passes were dropped. Assignments were missed. Normally fluid timing was balky. None of these were a surprise on a day where simply taking the field and building to a sense of normalcy was accomplishment enough.

“(I’ve) definitely got to work on some timing with certain things, but for a first day, I thought it was pretty good,” said quarterback Tim Tebow.

Tebow, the No. 2 quarterback for the two-hour practice, didn’t throw any interceptions during team or seven-on-seven work. Brady Quinn did;

WHO’S WHERE: With Renaldo Hill out and Brian Dawkins in uniform but wearing a floppy hat and rookies Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter unsigned, Kyle McCarthy and Darcel McBath worked together as the first-team safeties …

… With rookie linebackers Von Miller and Nate Irving still unsigned as practice began, fellow rookie Mike Mohamed and veteran Joe Mays worked at strongside and middle linebacker, respectively, while D.J. Williams returned to the weak side position he last played in 2008, just before the Broncos transitioned to a 3-4 alignment for the following two seasons.

“My expectation is to start,” said Mays. “I’m coming in to compete to start. If it just so happens I have to play special teams, I’ll definitely do that. But I want to be on the field, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get back there.”

… Eddie Royal returned to the first team after recuperating from hip surgery throughout the offseason. Royal and Brandon Lloyd were the first-team base wide receivers, while most of Eric Decker’s action came with the second unit …

… Rookie Orlando Franklin signed his contract 40 minutes before practice and was immediately given a heavy workload, working on the first team at right tackle. The remainder of the line was familiar: right guard Chris Kuper, center J.D. Walton, left guard Zane Beadles and left tackle Ryan Clady …

… “You’re rolling with four other guys that pretty much know what they’re doing,” said Franklin, who was issued jersey No. 74, last worn by Ryan Harris, a 2010 Broncos starter at right tackle.. “I was pretty much in the same situation in college. Day 1 of camp I started also. It puts a lot of pressure on you but with time I think I’ll be all right.”

Franklin was able to gain some familiarity with the offense before Thursday, noting that Kuper sent him the offensive playbook during the offseason …

… Wide receiver Eddie Royal and cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson returned punts …

… Knowshon Moreno was the first-team running back and appeared lighter than in previous years, but insisted he wasn’t consciously trying to lose weight. “I’m not trying to do that. I’m just working out and eating the same, eating the same but eating a lot,” Moreno said. “I’ve been doing those things, but got real lean. I just feel good. I definitely changed my diet, which I needed to do. I was just eating whatever I wanted so now I’m just eating better, also.” …

… Russ Hochstein was the second-team center, meaning he spent much of his day snapping to Tim Tebow.

ATTENDANCE REPORT: Hill missed practice because of what Fox termed “dehydration.” … Dawkins was in uniform, but stood along the sideline and near his fellow defensive backs as they went through drills … Running back Correll Buckhalter, who is expected to be released Friday, did not practice.

WEATHER REPORT: A typically comfortable Colorado summer morning was undoubtedly pleasant for Fox, who as Panthers head coach rarely led camp practices in conditions as comfortable as the 74-degree, partly-cloudy ones that greeted the Broncos Thursday morning. The humidity was a higher than normal, starting at 45 percent and dropping to 36 percent by the end of the session, by which point the temperature rose to 79 degrees.

NEXT PRACTICES: Thursday night at 5:50 p.m. MDT. Tebow referred to that session as a “walkthrough,” but it is expected to be a full, no-pads practice. The Broncos will return to on-field work Friday at 2:20 p.m. MDT.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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