KKTV 11 News | Colorado Springs, Pueblo | Sports

Denver's D-line coach happy, hoarse over trio of draft picks

DENVER (AP) No one at Broncos headquarters was happier following the draft than Denver's new defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

And nobody was hoarser Friday following the team's first week of passing camp, either.

The Broncos used three of their four draft picks on defensive linemen, taking Florida teammates Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas and Texas end Tim Crowder.

``When we drafted these young guys it was just like being a kid at Christmas,'' said Johnson, who joined Mike Shanahan's staff this offseason after six years coaching Atlanta's defensive line. ``They have energy and they're eager to learn.''

The Broncos, determined to get a better pass rush so that the defense can get off the field faster and give second-year quarterback Jay Cutler more time to do his thing, selected Moss with the 17th overall pick, added Crowder in the second round and picked up Thomas in the fourth.

They got their first taste of the NFL this week.

``The thing I love about all three of these rookies is their work ethic and the bright eyes they have to come in and to learn,'' Johnson said.

Of course, the downside of having so many fresh legs on the line is having so many fresh faces.

``They are like the usual rookies,'' Johnson said. ``This is the NFL and the speed of the game is fast for them. All three players were solid. It looks like they will be three good guys for us.''

The three quickly saw for themselves how they have to do everything better at this level.

``I've been playing football for a long time, but it's just a different language,'' Moss said of learning the complex terminology. ``It's like being a freshman all over again.''

Gainesville, though, seemed like a million miles away from Denver.

``I thought I'd go out there and it would be like college again. But these boys are a little bit quicker and stronger,'' Thomas said. ``When I saw there would be no pads on, I thought it would be a little walkthrough. But this is like having pads on. It is really intense.''

Thomas and Crowder both said they got yelled at by the coaching staff the very first time they crouched.

``Gerard Warren and a couple of the older players were helping me out, trying to get my stance right, that funky college stance, and (turn it) into a pro stance,'' Thomas said. ``I'm trying to get used to that.''

It's back to the basics, from stances to technique.

And this trio is learning that everything has to be better here even their rhythm.

``I had to dance the first day. They weren't impressed with the dance,'' said Moss, who bombed when he was called out in front of the team to showcase his skills during warmups.

``It's something that I'll work on in case they call me out again.''

Adding to the adjustment is Denver's mile-high air.

``The first day was real tough on me,'' Moss said. ``I tapped out and didn't make it through the workout. But these past couple of days I've been getting adjusted to it and it has gotten easier.''

The rookies are toeing the line between showing deference to their veteran teammates who are helping them adjust to the world of professional football and showcasing their skills for their coaches so that they can take playing time away from those teammates as soon as possible.

Moss walked off the practice field with an armful of his teammates' helmets, the NFL's version of rookie hazing.

``Not really a big deal,'' he said. ``I'm glad to be here and be a part of this.''

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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