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Broncos notebook from day 1 of training camp

DENVER (AP) -- The best play at the Denver Broncos' first day of camp wasn't Javon Walker coming down with the ball on a deflected pass or David Kircus hauling in a 50-yard reception from Jay Cutler between three defenders.

No, the top performance occurred during team stretching when rookie defensive tackle Marcus Thomas was called out in front of the group in a tradition the players call "break down."

Some players do a little dance, others a little shake. Some are laughed at, others are admired for their athleticism or rhythm.

Thomas, a 300-pound-plus defensive tackle from Florida, did a double back-flip that so astonished his teammates he was quickly mobbed by several of them as the crowd roared its approval.

"I actually saw it in college once and when he did his workouts for the pro scouts," coach Mike Shanahan said.

"A lot of his coaches were there. During that time, he started his workouts doing that so I had kind of anticipated it.

Most of our players never see that, so they are a little bit surprised.

He did a round off and a back flip, not many guys can do that at 325 pounds."

"That was impressive," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. "You know we have been practicing that for two weeks.

I think I'll try to do that tomorrow."

Pro Bowl safety Champ Bailey laughed when asked when he'll follow suit.

"When you put some money on the table," he said.

"I get paid a lot of money to play football. If you want to pay me to do a back flip, I will do a couple for you. The first time I've seen that," Bailey added.

"A big guy like that."

Thomas hopes to impress in practice, too.

FIRST SCARE: The first scare of training camp came about 90 minutes into the workout Sunday when wide receiver Javon Walker and linebacker Nate Webster collided.

Walker stayed down for a minute and Webster for a couple before getting up.

It was a scary site for a team that's thin at both positions because of injuries.

Walker shook it off and made a spectacular grab on a ball that was deflected by cornerback Karl Paymah 10 minutes later.

With Rod Smith (hip) and Brandon Marshall (thigh) injured, Domenik Hixon started alongside Walker with the starting unit during drills.

Newcomer Brandon Stokley was the third wide receiver and David Kircus the fourth.

Marshall hopes to return in a week and a-half and Smith has no timetable for his return.

On Sunday, Walker moved from split end to flanker, the position he played in Green Bay, and Hixon went to split end.

Hixon has been playing all three wide receiver positions but this was his first extended look at split end.

"I've been playing everything, they've been plugging me in here for a day, there for a day, testing my knowledge, see if I know it all," Hixon said.

WELCOME BACK: Tight end Daniel Graham is glad to be back in Colorado and not just because he went to college in Boulder.

"It's been a long time since I played here and I couldn't wait to get back," said the sixth-year pro.

Graham caught 17 passes in five seasons in New England, where he won two Super Bowl rings, but he wasn't used as much for his pass-catching skills as for his blocking in recent years.

In Denver, he'll see plenty of blocking and lots of route-running because the Broncos like to use their tight ends essentially as third receivers.

"When I get open, I know what to do," he said.

"I know I can be a big part of the offense. I didn't get too many balls thrown my way at New England. They kept me in to do a lot of blocking. I'm looking forward to getting open and seeing balls."

Safety John Lynch is glad Graham's finally on his side.

"As a guy who's competed against him, I've had a lot of respect for his game.

I think he's a player who prides himself on being good at everything, good receiver, good blocker," Lynch said.

"And just a pro's pro. And I think when you're around the real good players you're even more impressed, when you're around them day-in and day-out and you see what makes them tick, the way they work. Dan's come in here and really stepped up and been a leader for this team already. He's got multiple rings, so he's got the juice to come in here and do that."

NEW BOSS: Things were a little bit louder Saturday with assistant head coach Jim Bates in charge of the defense.

He alternately hollered at his players to celebrate successes and disavow failures.

"He is going to make sure you know when you do good and when you don't," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said.

"I love it," Champ Bailey said. "He's loud and rowdy.

He wants perfection on every play and I love that. I demand perfection out of myself. And my teammates and the guys around me."

EXTRA POINTS: With Eddie Moore (knee) released, free agent Warrick Holdman, a ninth-year pro who started all 16 games for Washington last season, worked at linebacker with starters D.J. Williams and Ian Gold.

The first player to substitute in was D.D. Lewis. Bates said the position is wide open and five linebackers will get the chance to win the job.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)


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