ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It was a defensive kind of day at Dove Valley Monday afternoon. In most of the team drills and scrimmages, the white jerseys got the better of the blues, as they get ready to face last year's seventh-ranked offense in Dallas on Thursday.
During one scrimmage when the offense practiced the two-minute drill, the defense intercepted the ball two out of three possessions, with one pick each for linebacker
Head Coach John Fox recognized the defense's tenacity during his post-game talk to the team.
"He gave the defense their props," linebacker
The defense is bolstered this year by two rookies who are in position to start in the first preseason game on Thursday -- safety
Moore has been starting with the first-team defense since the day he hit the practice field. While he's had to do traditional rookie things like carry pads into the locker room, many veterans, such as cornerbacks
"They give me my props when I do good, and they get on me when I do bad," Moore said. "They've done a great job, and I'm glad to come to this organization, where it's like family. They care for you -- that's a good thing, and it's what championship teams do."
Moore has especially taken a liking to his fellow safety on the field, Dawkins. When he's not hovering in the secondary, he's on the sideline, stuck to veteran's side. Moore has found Dawkins to be a mentor, father-figure and coach on and off the field. Moore said Dawkins is a guy that takes everything -- intensity, urgency, physicality -- up a notch on the field, whether it's head-butting teammates instead of shaking their hand or moving at full speed every play.
But what strikes Moore most about Dawkins is how he carries himself off the field.
"You never hear any problems about Brian Dawkins," Moore said. "He's a great family man -- he's a guy that you can come to for any advice. I asked him, 'What should I do with my (signing) bonus, my money that I make? I know I want to save it, but how do I save it? What should I do? How should I help people?' He's told me the ways, and he's been helping me out every day."
Moore was quick to point out that Dawkins also has a lighter side.
"Also, he's a funny guy, especially when that music comes on (during stretching)," Moore said.
Another rookie expected to make an impact on Thursday and throughout the season is Miller. Even though he was the second-overall draft pick this year, Miller doesn't view that as an entitlement and does sprints after practice to get himself in the best shape he can. He does the sprints on his own, as he says he needs to motivate himself now rather than a coach doing that for him.
"Back in college, my strength coach made me do (extra training)," Miller said. "This is just part of the maturation. To become a great player I have to do it on my own. In college I used to get on the StairMaster after practice. (Texas A&M Strength and Conditioning) Coach (Dave) Kennedy, he had a select group that he'd have get on the StairMaster every day. Out here I don't have that; I don't have anybody pushing me. I have to push myself."
Miller's teammates notice the extra work he puts in and how that translates to his play on the field. Miller will team up with defensive end
"He is explosive -- very explosive," Dumervil said. "I am excited we got him. I am looking forward to playing years with him. He is just a good character guy. He comes out and works hard and as a rookie he comes out and does what the veterans ask. He is going to be a great player for years to come."
While Moore and Miller were listed as starters in the initial Broncos depth chart released Monday, neither of them are taking their position for granted as they know they have a lot to still learn in the NFL.
"It's a good thing, but we can't get complacent," Moore said. "We can't get satisfied. We've got to keep pressing through and keep learning and keep getting better from these veterans and come out here every day like it's a game."
On Thursday, Moore, Miller and the rest of the rookies will have a chance to put that game-like practice into a game situation for the first time and show the nation what the fans saw at training camp on Monday.