ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For many years the Denver Broncos opened training camp the same way. All of the team's players reported on the same day and everybody essentially jumped into the football pool at the same time.
This year, however, for the second consecutive season the Broncos have given a head start to their rookie class (drafted players and undrafted), players coming back from injuries, and players on the practice squad last season. The Broncos' rookies reported Sunday night and hit the practice field for the first time Monday afternoon.
"There’s nothing like being in the building, kind of getting your feet wet," said guard Connor McGovern, a fifth-round pick in April. " ... Definitely be nice to get a couple days ... it will definitely help."
The Broncos' veterans won’t formally report until Wednesday, for a team meeting, with the first full-team practice on Thursday morning.
With free agency, the salary cap and the inevitable threat of injuries, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak is of a mind that getting the team’s youngest players ready to contribute is a necessity.
As he has said many times, "it took everybody on this team to win (the Super Bowl)."
So, the Broncos' youngsters will get three days to find their balance before as rookie safety Will Parks put it "things get real." Parks said he took some time between the end of the Broncos' offseason program in June until his arrival at the team’s facility Sunday night to study the defensive playbook.
And his expectation was that all the other players -- rookies and veterans alike -- did the same. He was asked Monday what he did during the break to help his game, and he offered simply: "Me being a rookie, everything. ... (Just) make sure you know what you’re doing ... Getting ready for it. You ain’t looking forward to this, you’re crazy."
Safety Justin Simmons, the Broncos' third-round selection, did most of his training in Florida after the offseason program, but made sure to return to Colorado with some time to spare to get re-acclimated to the altitude.
"That’s definitely an essential," Simmons said. "It’s great to train down where it’s hot with high humidity, but there’s nothing like Denver with that altitude."
Simmons has shown he is a quick study -- the early return is something many of the Broncos' veteran players have done as well to get ready for camp. Defensive end Derek Wolfe, linebacker Todd Davis and nose tackle Sylvester Williams were among a group of veterans who worked with Loren Landow, a Denver-based trainer who has worked with many Broncos through the years.
The group has spent most of July working in Denver’s altitude.