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Offseason Rewards

Posted Aug 3, 2010

Jarvis Moss refocused on football this offseason, earning praise from his coaches and teammates. Now the linebacker hopes to parlay his improvement into a bigger onfield impact.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Jarvis Moss earned one of 10 front row spots in the players' parking lot at the Broncos' Dove Valley facility for being named one of the team's offseason champions.

For now, the prime parking space remains the major reward for his months of running, lifting and hard work since the close of last season.

But if Moss can continue that momentum as the 2010 season nears, he hopes he's just begun to reap the benefits.

Three days into training camp, the 6-foot-7, 257-pound linebacker continues to impress coaches and teammates with his transformation. Buoyed by a new attitude, Moss is poised to parlay his re-dedication to the sport into an increased impact on the team that drafted him with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

"I want to go ahead and start a legacy for myself and just live up to what people are expecting me to be," Moss said Monday. "I know what I am capable of and I know what I expect to be."

After three seasons in which he played a total of 25 games and recorded just 39 tackles, Moss understood some changes were in order before his fourth campaign. Looking back, it's easy for Moss to realize his approach needed adjusting all along.

For Moss, who turns 26 today, that meant prioritizing his life, focusing on football and working toward the form that made him a star at Florida.

The result of a tireless offseason has been the addition of a few pounds of muscle to his long frame and a renewed sense of purpose on the field.

"I just had to sit down and take a deep look at myself," Moss said, "and realize that I am a football player and this is what I love to do."

Many around Dove Valley have taken notice.

During June minicamp, Moss earned reps with the first-unit defense. In his second year as an outside linebacker in the Broncos' 3-4 scheme, he's shown flashes of the burst and playmaking that first impressed the Broncos during Florida's run to the 2007 NCAA National Championship.

That success has many wondering how a resurgent Moss could boost an already talented linebacking corps.

"He’s doing a lot of the little things right that takes some time to learn," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said, "so we are excited about what we’ve got with Jarvis this year."

That's a sentiment Moss can embrace. While some want to discuss his last three seasons, Moss remains focused on the present and future.

Regardless of the role the linebacker ultimately plays this season, teammates have said they are excited about Moss' new attitude.

In that way, the offseason champion vote and new parking spot just completed the transformation.

"What I see of Jarvis today is a guy who is dialed-in -- dedicated," Brian Dawkins said Tuesday. "He's pushing himself and asking questions left and right in the meeting room to make sure he's where he needs to be for our defense."

BACKING BAKER

As April's NFL Draft wound down, Toney Baker started doing his homework.

Several teams were interested in signing the former N.C. State running back if he wasn't selected. As his phone continued to ring, Baker weighed his options.

The 24-year-old admits it wasn't an easy choice. In the end, the best opportunity to play -- and a bit of nostalgia for the Broncos' run of success in the late 1990s -- won out.

"I didn’t see any power backs on the roster," Baker said of his reasons for accepting an invitation to compete in the Mile High City, "and I just thought that it would be a great place to play."

Baker's chances to impress have increased in recent days with injuries to Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. He's had a chance to share reps with Kolby Smith, Lance Ball and Bruce Hall -- all of whom have joined the squad since November.

McDaniels said because of their common lack of experience in the system, he's looking at all four running backs as rookies. That amounts to a running back crash course that will be valuable to whichever backs ultimately make the 53-man roster.

"The good thing is they are getting a lot of reps and I think with every rep, hopefully, they are learning something and then we can get better each practice," McDaniels said.

Baker knows something about injuries. He missed nearly two full seasons in his Wolfpack career with a right knee injury before a healthy senior season.

While Baker empathizes with his teammates, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound bruiser hopes to carve out his niche by taking advantage of any extra reps that come his way.

"(I'm) just taking it as an opportunity to get better each and every day," Baker said. "We’re praying for (Buckhalter and Moreno) to come back soon, very soon, but we’ve just got to keep on trying to get better each day."