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Gameday Online: Royal Revived and Ready

Posted Sep 7, 2011

Eddie Royal made a statement to his teammates by battling through injury last season, and the wideout has his eyes on the playoffs in 2011.

Health is a relative term in the National Football League.

Take Eddie Royal for instance.

The Broncos wide receiver was able to play in all 16 games last year. But a hip injury suffered in the opener hampered Royal throughout a season in which he caught 59 balls and accumulated 627 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

So, when the season concluded, Royal underwent arthroscopic surgery on his hip.

"I knew that something was up and I just didn't feel exactly 100 percent all year," Royal said. "And I know that during the season there is going to be some bruises and bangs and nobody is 100 percent healthy.

"But it was different."

Royal's injury was a difficult one to diagnose. He was listed with thigh and groin injuries during the majority of the season until it was later determined that his hip was causing the problems.

But Royal suited up each week and produced despite limitations caused by his damaged hip.

"We are all playing with some type of injury and it's just about getting through it and putting your best product out there on the field," Royal said.

Now, Royal's hip is healed and the limitations are gone.

"It's been great going out there and running routes, being out there with the guys and feeling like myself again," Royal said. "I feel good."

Suddenly a Veteran

Royal is entering his fourth season in the league, but he's already one of the elder statesmen in Denver at the wide receiver position.

Only Brandon Lloyd has more NFL experience.

Royal played like a veteran and led by example last year, displaying toughness and productivity in the midst of an
injury-riddled season. And it didn't go unnoticed.

Count running back Knowshon Moreno as one of the Broncos impressed by Royal's willingness to play through pain last season.

"It definitely means a lot," Moreno said. "Not everyone can play through an injury and go 100 percent like he did. It shows his character and his will, wanting to help this team out."

Royal may be leading by example, but the 25-year-old wouldn't consider himself a mentor in the locker room just yet.

"You know, I still don't really view myself as an older guy or anything - I'm still young and I'm still learning," Royal said. "And if at any point you're not learning, then you're not doing your job.

"I believe that you can always get better and I'm working just as hard as those young guys because it is their job to try to take my spot. I'm out there working just like everybody else."

Room to Grow

Royal is confident his best is yet to come.

From the moment he entered the league as a second-round draft pick, he has played a substantial role for the Broncos at wide receiver and in the return game, but Royal is still working to maximize his potential.

He's been critiqued by new sets of eyes with the arrival of Head Coach John Fox and Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert, who has been intrigued with Royal's athleticism and versatility.

"He has a lot of tools that I think we'll be able to use as an offense to get the ball in his hands and help us make some big plays down the field," Tolbert said.

Royal is far from satisfied with his level of play and he's working each day to become a more well-rounded receiver that can provide the downfield plays Tolbert alluded to.

"I definitely think I have room to grow," Royal said. "I've learned so much already this camp - just a lot of little things about playing the position. We have got some new coaches with new techniques that we're learning and they have been really helpful for me. I'm excited about the year."

One Goal

When he first entered the league, Royal, like almost all newcomers, set personal goals and wanted to prove himself as an individual.

But as he hits the prime of his career, Royal wants to prove he is a winner above all else.

His continued development as a player will help translate into more success for the Broncos offense. That's his focus.

So Royal isn't worried about the number of touches he'll get, or the yards he'll gain as he enters the 2011 season at full strength.

No - his mind is set on taking part in the playoffs instead of watching them.

"I learned a lot in these few years I've been in the league, and I learned that it doesn't matter how good of an individual year you had if the team doesn't have success," Royal said. "So it's all about the team and winning games and making it to the playoffs. It's something that is a goal for us and that's really the only goal I have."