ENGLEWOOD (AP) - Wide receiver David Kircus is out to reward Mike Shanahan's faith in him.
The Denver Broncos coach stuck with the fourth-year receiver after Kircus was arrested and charged with assaulting a man at a party in May. Shanahan said Kircus passed a polygraph - which won't matter in the court of law.
Now, Kircus is trying to reward Shanahan's faith, and he's had plenty of fantastic catches but also a few drops in the first few days of camp.
"David shows flashes," Shanahan said. "He is a little inconsistent. He drops the ball a few too many times. He can come up with the big play and that consistency dictates that you get a chance to play on game day. David does show flashes and hopefully that consistency can improve and if it does improve then he has a chance to be on our football team."
Kircus knows he has the talent to play in the NFL; now he's out to prove he can be consistent enough for Shanahan to trust him.
"I've got to come out here and keep making plays. I have to show I can be consistent. Because where I am going to fit into this team is I have to come in on any play they ask me to and try to make a big play," said Kircus, who had nine catches for 187 yards for the Broncos last season.
He said he's not banking on having made the team last year, however.
"You can't look at it like that. I might have a five-year contract, but I am going to have the same mentality each year. I have to think starting at the bottom and work my way up," he said.
With Rod Smith (hip) and Brandon Marshall (groin) out, Kircus is getting plenty of chances to prove he belongs.
"It is a chance for me to get in there and get more playing time. It's not a positive thing for the team, but it helps me out to get in there and try to make more plays," Kircus said.
He tries not to dwell on his bobbles.
"I can't think about that. If you're going to worry about dropping a pass, you are going to drop a pass. You have to think you'll catch it every time-even if you are covered," he said.
He's also trying not to think about his legal troubles.
Kircus faces a second-degree assault charge that carries a prison term of two to six years for allegedly punching a 26-year-old man in the face this offseason. He is accused of punching the man and telling him "You don't know what I'm capable of" after a party in suburban Denver on May 20. Kircus is free on $6,000 bail.
Kircus, who has said he's guilty only of poor judgment, said he's only focused on football.
"It hasn't affected me at all. I think only football when I on the field. I put everything else aside and worry about the team," he said.
Some of the camp's best matchups so far have been Kircus going against cornerback Dre' Bly, whom he played with in Detroit.
"Bly and I go way back. I used to make fun of him. I made a highlight film of 1-on-1s. I still have it. We are big competitors. He hates to lose. I hate to lose. We play tooth and nail against each other," Kircus said.
KEITH BURNS: Former special teams ace Keith Burns, who retired in the offseason, is helping Scott O'Brien coach the special teams and said he has no regrets about retirement nor does he have any hankering to suit back up and work in the hot sun.
"It's out of my system to play. It's been out of my system for a while. It was done and I never looked back when it was over. I left it all on the field. I worked hard on every play," Burns said.
Burns is already well-admired by his former teammates.
"There isn't a kickoff or a kickoff return I haven't seen. I tell that to the players," he said.
He's got plenty to learn and he's a willing pupil for O'Brien.
"He is one of the best, if not the best, in the business," Burns said.
THOMAS' TRIALS: Rookie defensive tackle Marcus Thomas doesn't mind the logjam along the defensive line. In fact, he kind of likes it.
The Broncos have eight players on the line with starting experience and signed Sam Adams in the spring to play alongside returning starter Gerard Warren. That experience has Thomas learning on the job quickly.
"I really have to be on my P's and Q's on everything," Thomas said. "The older guys, they want to try to mold the rookies into form, or however it is. Things like that motivate me."
Thomas, a fourth-round draft choice out of Florida, is vying for time in the trenches with Warren, Adams, Alvin McKinley and Jimmy Kennedy, who started a majority of games last season with the Browns and Rams, respectively.
Thomas thinks he can make his way into the rotation.
"They're really helping me out, not downplaying me or anything," Thomas said. "I'm just trying to put myself in a position where if one of those guys gets tired, the coaches know they can put me in. I think I can break in there and play right alongside them."
EXTRA POINTS: Weak side LB Ian Gold sat out Tuesday's two practices after experiencing back spasms Monday. Shanahan said he'll be back Wednesday. ... WR/PR Domenik Hixon injured his right shoulder and had an ice pack on it in the morning. He sat out the afternoon practice. Shanahan described the injury as "a slight first-degree shoulder separation" that wasn't deemed serious ... WR Brandon Stokley, coming off an Achilles' tendon injury, sat out the morning practice but participated in the afternoon workout. ... LT Matt Lepsis is taking it easy at times. "We don't want to overwork the (right) knee" which was surgically repaired last season, Shanahan said. ... RB Travis Henry also sat out the second practice to rest.
(Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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