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Not Your Average Rookies

Posted Aug 12, 2011

Von Miller, Rahim Moore and Orlando Franklin all started Thursday's preseason opener, and each player left feeling confident and ready to improve.


DALLAS -- For most rookies, preseason game No. 1 is a bit of a Welcome to the NFL moment.

But then again, most rookies don't enter that game in the starting lineup. So Von Miller, Rahim Moore and Orlando Franklin aren't most rookies.

The trio entered Thursday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys as first-teamers, and rather than wide-eyed and nervous, they left it feeling more confident and ready to learn.

"We came out there with a lot of urgency and intensity," Moore said. "We just have a lot of veterans, and when you have them on the team, it makes guys like me step my game up and makes me feel like a veteran. I told myself today that I’m not a rookie."

While Miller agreed that the speed of the game is an adjustment from college to the NFL, it was the opposite of what you might expect.

"It was a lot slower," he said. "In college you're used to hurry-up offenses -- 'They're going right now, they're going right now!' I'm sure we'll get offenses like that here in the NFL, but today they were taking their time and I was able to gather my thoughts, analyze the plays my coaches were giving me and just execute."

Moore, who was overcome with emotion when he first stepped foot into INVESCO Field at Mile High for last Saturday's scrimmage, said he felt plenty prepared for Thursday's contest.

"The way we practice – with guys like (Brian) Dawkins and Champ (Bailey) – we always have that intensity, so it wasn’t a big adjustment today," he said.

But don't confuse the rookies' confidence with cockiness.

Both Miller and Moore admitted they have plenty to work on, Franklin said "there is definitely room for improvement" and fellow 2011 NFL Draft pick Julius Thomas said the 24-23 loss to the Cowboys was one big learning experience.

"I saw some different fronts today, some different coverages, and that's all stuff we'll be able to see on tape and work on the next time we play a 3-4 team or something like that," Thomas said. "Then for myself, if I had 20, 30 snaps, however many it was, that's a lot of time to evaluate how I'm doing and my technique. So it's going to give me a time to get coached up on things and try to be more prepared to play better next time."

The rookies' effort and solid play garnered the attention of their teammates -- Kyle Orton said the fact that he wasn't sacked showed Franklin "played alright" -- but it wasn't lost on the veterans that they're still just that -- rookies.

The proof? The team committed 10 penalties for 85 yards.

"You don’t want to say it is expected, but you have a lot of young guys out there excited – playing for their jobs, playing for their lives -- and they get out there and they are pretty jacked up," Orton said. "They want to show something special. It kind of happens in the first preseason game, but it’s something to clean up."

And as that gets cleaned up, the rookies and veterans alike are hoping to make some alterations to their preseason record, which after one game has a zero in the win column.

Moore said that even while the games don't count, it doesn't mean the players aren't invested.

"I forgot it was the preseason, really," he said. "I thought it was our first game. I was actually on the sideline getting mad. That’s just my competitive nature -- I wanted to win. But we’ll fix it. We got Buffalo next week for the home opener, and we’ll try to go out with a bang."