Tebow a big draw at Broncos camp
ap sports writer
ENGLEWOOD – No insubordination. No contract consternation. No split locker room.
No more bad karma – just a bit of bad luck.
The Denver Broncos kicked off training camp without the negativity that enveloped them a year ago, when their two first-round draft picks were holdouts and the man wearing No. 15 was recalcitrant receiver Brandon Marshall.
With Marshall in Miami, rookie quarterback Tim Tebow is donning that number now, and his presence was a big reason the Broncos drew 3,103 fans to the start of training camp, a record for the first day at Dove Valley.
The only damper? Running backs Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter got hurt.
That might have been the only two times many in the crowd took their eyes off Tebow, the two-time national champion from Florida and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner.
“Guy was a great player in college,” Champ Bailey said. “He’s going to do some great things for us.”
Fans serenaded Tebow with cheers when he walked onto the field and when he stretched, then chanted his name when he walked off after winning every single one of the post-practice sideline sprints.
“I thought it was Bannan,” cracked defensive lineman Justin Bannan. “Isn’t that what they’re out here for? No, obviously, it’s Tebow. Everyone’s out here to see him and it looks like he’s doing all right.”
Bannan said the veterans don’t mind that Tebow’s stealing the show.
“Obviously, he’s a special case and he had an unbelievable collegiate career. He’s the only guy to have a career like that, so it kind of demands that kind of attention,” Bannan said.
Tebow is certainly accustomed to this adoration.
“We had some pretty passionate fans at Florida, too,” he said.
Tebowmania is everywhere, from the jerseys in the crowd to the hand-painted signs kids held up.
Even wide receiver Brandon Stokley’s house is abuzz over Tebow.
“He surpassed me as my son’s favorite player on the Broncos,” Stokley conceded.
The crowd even burst into applause when Tebow scrambled out of the pocket in 7-on-7 drills without the rush of any linemen.
For all the adulation, Tebow remains a raw rookie buried not only in the playbook but in the film room studying ways to improve his mechanics as he adjusts to the pro game.
“I’m still working on footwork and my drops and things like that but as far as just my throwing motion, it’s more of just getting my feet in place,” he said.
Tebow is working behind starter Kyle Orton and fellow newcomer Brady Quinn and throwing to a deep stable of 10 receivers, including fellow first-round pick Demaryius Thomas.
The Broncos’ backfield is another story.
Moreno, who missed the start of last year’s camp as a holdout, was carted off the field midway through the two-hour morning practice after hurting his right leg, and Buckhalter injured his left leg minutes later.
Coach Josh McDaniels, who 48 hours earlier traded veteran running back J.J. Arrington to Philadelphia for special teams stud Joe Mays, said he didn’t know the extent of their injuries.
“Certainly, you don’t want to see two of your guys that you really count on at the same position come off the field on the first day of training camp,” McDaniels said.
The Broncos’ backfield now looks like this: waiver wire pickup Kolby Smith, undrafted rookie Toney Baker and second-year pros Lance Ball and Bruce Hall.
Moreno caught a pass in 7-on-7 drills and turned upfield when his leg buckled. He grimaced as he hopped into the team’s headquarters for tests. Buckhalter hurt his leg about 10 minutes later during the same drill and limped off the field.
“One guy goes down, a guy moves up,” Ball said. “Chance to get more reps, get on film and impress the coaches.”
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