First-rounder Moreno digesting Broncos’ complex offense
AP Sports Writer
Denver, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” The complexity of the Denver Broncos offense is confounding Knowshon Moreno.
“Running around like my head’s cut off,” he said.
Don’t worry, rookie. You’re far from alone.
New coach Josh McDaniels’ intricate offense is making many heads spin as players try to tackle the terminology. The Broncos received a small sampling of what’s in store as they finished a three-day voluntary minicamp Sunday.
The errors were abundant over the three days ” just as McDaniels expected.
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“They’re going to make mistakes for a little while,” he said. “That’s what these practices are for, to get those kinks out and hopefully come to training camp and not have to iron them all out.”
For Moreno, it was an eye-opening minicamp. He came away with the realization that he needs to bury himself in the books.
“You’ve got to really study, you’ve got to be in the playbook at night when you get home, even though it’s late,” said Moreno, who was taken with the 12th pick in last weekend’s draft. “It’s tough.”
LaMont Jordan can vouch for that. He’s already quite versed with McDaniels’ schemes after playing last season with New England.
Yet even he feels swamped.
“I’m still learning,” Jordan said. “Just when you think you know it all, you don’t … That’s why we’re all helping one another out. The more (Moreno) studies, the more he’s around, the more he hears the verbiage, the quicker he’ll pick it up.”
So far, Jordan has been impressed with the rookie out of Georgia. Not so much for Moreno’s play-making ability as his ability to listen and learn.
“I like his energy,” Jordan said. “He’s having fun, he’s trying to learn. As a player, that’s what you want to see. He’s learning on the run.”
But why draft another tailback?
After all, the team brought in J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter and Jordan in the offseason to compete with holdovers Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain.
Wasn’t that enough?
“I’ve been in this business enough to know that’s something you have to do,” Jordan said. “Look at our backfield. Every back that we have here ” with the exception of our rookies ” is coming off some type of injury from last year. Of course it makes sense to go out and get a running back … I thought he was the best running back in the draft anyway.”
A crowded backfield, though, means fewer carries for everyone.
“I don’t concern myself with that,” Jordan said. “One thing about this offense is that one week we might beat you throwing the ball 50 or 60 times, the next week we might beat you running the ball 40 or 50 times. There’s plenty to go around, especially in this offense.”
Especially once it’s fully digested.
Moreno has a few months to absorb the complicated schemes.
“You can’t make the mistakes over and over again,” Moreno said. “Once (McDaniels) teaches you what to do, you’ve got to make the right call after that. … It’s tough, but that’s the challenge you look for.”
Moreno considers it a privilege to don Darrent Williams’ No. 27.
It’s the first time the number has been used by the Broncos since the popular cornerback was killed in a drive-by shooting Jan. 1, 2007.
“There’s a lot of history to this number,” Moreno said. “I’m just honored to be able to represent it in the right way.”
Moreno also wants to dedicate his time to the teen center built in Williams’ honor.
“I understand Darrent did a bunch of things in the community, so I definitely want to do that when I settle down and the time’s right,” said Moreno, who received the blessing of Williams’ mother to wear the jersey. “I feel good about it and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Robert Ayers was kept quite busy throughout minicamp, splitting his time between the linebackers and the defensive linemen.
It’s all part of the Broncos’ plan to make him more of a hybrid player in the team’s conversion to a 3-4 defensive look.
“Kind of getting a double dosage,” said Ayers, who was taken with the 18th pick in the draft.
Although he played mostly defensive end at Tennessee, he’s quickly getting the hang of linebacker.
However, his coverage of tight ends and tailbacks still needs some work.
“I’ve got to get used to that,” he said. “I just got to keep working and I’ll get better at it.”
Ayers will be wearing No. 56 this season ” a coincidental tribute to former Broncos Pro Bowl linebacker Al Wilson, who also played for the Volunteers.
“For the coaches to even let me have this number means a lot to me,” Ayers said.
The battle to take Jay Cutler’s place under center is no closer to being decided after Chris Simms and Kyle Orton each turned in solid minicamps.
“Still a competition, still a lot of learning to do for both of them,” McDaniels said. “I like where they’re at now.”
The end of practice was riding on whether 325-pound offensive tackle Ryan Clady successfully fielded a punt from Brett Kern.
Clady ran up on a high, short kick and secured the football against his chest, setting off a celebration with his teammates.
So, does Clady’s snare warrant a tryout as punt returner?
“We’re going to have to see how he runs with the ball once he has it in his hands,” McDaniels said, laughing.