Eager to see what he has in second-round pick Richard Quinn, Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said he expected the tight end out of North Carolina to play extensively throughout the preseason, starting Friday night in an exhibition opener at San Francisco.
Quinn had just 12 receptions in three seasons at North Carolina but developed a rugged, physical style that helped him become one of the nation's premier blockers at the position. McDaniels' offensive system prizes the tight end for his blocking prowess and as a target in the passing game.
"He's involved with everything in this offense," Quinn said. "He has an equal opportunity to get the ball in the passing game and blocking is always going to be a key role."
Quinn enters the first preseason game behind incumbents Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler.
McDaniels said that the tight end's involvement in virtually every aspect of the offense elevated the importance of repetitions for Quinn in both practice and exhibitions.
"He's a rookie, and the hardest thing for those guys is they factor into everything at tight end - the running game, the passing game, and they've got to do a lot of work," McDaniels said. "It starts off the field and then he's got to be able to carry that onto the field.
"It's coming together, just like some of the other rookies are, but that's a slower process. He's working his butt off and he'll get extensive playing time in the preseason, I'm sure, just to see if we can bring him along a little further."
Quinn said he's looking forward to playing a game after all the practice work he's gotten in the spring and during two-a-day training camp sessions.
"I'm excited," he said. "That's my opportunity to perform in front of my coaches and show them what I'm capable of doing."
49ers REVISTED: Primarily a backup in his four seasons with the 49ers, Broncos nose tackle Ronald Fields returns to face his old team as a principal cog in Denver's conversion to a 3-4 scheme.
Fields, who last started an NFL game in 2006 with the 49ers, has been taking repetitions with the first unit, which is being shaped by former 49ers coach Mike Nolan, now Denver's defensive coordinator.
Nolan's arrival in Denver played a major role in Fields' decision to sign with the Broncos as a free agent.
"I already knew what to expect from the defense they were going to run and the style of play and what he was looking for, so it was a good fit for me," Fields said.
He'll get his first chance to show how good a fit when he plays against his old team.
"I'm looking forward to it, see some of my friends, some familiar faces, some of my old coaches," Fields said. "It will be like a little homecoming."
EMOTIONS FLARE: For the first time in Josh McDaniels' training camp, which is full of full-pads, full-contact practices, two players nearly came to blows.
Cornerback Joshua Bell and wide receiver Kenny McKinley grabbed each other and stared each other down after getting tangled up during Monday's practice.
McDaniels was relieved they didn't throw down.
"We don't want to hurt each other. We are not out here to try to hurt one another, and we certainly want to take care of our teammates," McDaniels said. "There is nothing more important to our team than the health of the players.
Tension, McDaniels said. "is a part of football. This is a physical, sometimes violent, game. You have emotions that run high and sometimes that happens. I think our guys have done a great job of even when those things start up, they calm themselves down. We have good teammates that help squelch those kind of issues."
EXTRA POINTS: OLB/DE Jarvis Moss, who left the team early in camp to ponder his future in football and deal with personal issues, has had a couple of great practices. "He has gotten into the pocket quite a few times, but Jarvis is very capable of doing that all the time," McDaniels said. "He has got really good ability. Certainly, he is going to help us in the pass rush and can be a disruptive guy on the edge." ... Unlike years past, the Broncos starters can expect to play plenty in the preseason. McDaniels said they all had better be prepared to play the whole game Friday night, although that's unlikely.
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