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Knocking Off the Rust

Posted Aug 5, 2011

Safety Brian Dawkins and running back Willis McGahee talk about practicing with the team for the first time.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For days, safety Brian Dawkins and running back Willis McGahee watched their teammates practice from the sidelines.
 
Both players know they'll play a substantial role on their respective sides of the ball, but they were relegated to spectators for the first week of camp.
 
That is, until Thursday afternoon, when the start of the league year became official as the collective bargaining agreement was ratified.
 
Dawkins and McGahee finally strapped on the pads and partook in a training camp practice session.
 
"It felt great," Dawkins said of returning to the field. "Now, I've got to knock some of that rust off. But it felt great to finally get out there with the guys and get to learning this defense from the field and not from the sideline."
 
Dawkins and McGahee may be veterans, but both players have a lot to learn in the coming weeks.
 
This is Dawkins' third year in Denver but it is first under new Head Coach John Fox and Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen, who have been installing a new defense.
 
So after a series of up-downs to welcome him and the other defensive newcomers to training camp, Dawkins lined up with the first team and physically practiced the new scheme for the first time.

McGahee was all too ready to hit the field himself.
 
The recent free agent acquisition is learning a new offense all while getting acquainted with an entirely new group of teammates. Those circumstances can make some of the most experienced players in the league a little excitable.
 
"When I was taking off my earrings, I was in the locker room shaking and I was like, 'Why am I shaking?'" McGahee said. "I was anxious to get out here and get the feel for things and get a feel for the guys."
 
McGahee admitted he wasn't perfect during his first Broncos practice, although the he got off to a fast start taking his first carry up the middle for a big gain.

But the running back said he got more comfortable with the first-team offense as the session went along.
 
"I messed up one or two times, but I expect that. I didn't expect to come out here and be 100 percent on what's going on," McGahee explained. "As it went along it got better."
 
"I want to say I'm going as hard as I can, but you're still timid when you don't know the whole system," he added. "I'm not comfortable yet, but I'm getting there, so when I get comfortable, it's just going to be on and popping."