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'Thrown in the Fire'

Posted Jul 29, 2011

Rookies Rahim Moore and Nate Irving practice for the first time.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos' entire 2011 rookie class was on display Friday as safety Rahim Moore and linebacker Nate Irving finalized their contracts and joined the team on the practice field.

Moore -- a second round selection out of UCLA -- worked with the first-team defense, while Irving -- a third round pick from N.C. State -- will start playing behind Joe Mays, who took first-team snaps at middle linebacker.

Both rookies were smiling from ear-to-ear after their first official practice concluded.

“I’m officially a Bronco," Moore said. "I want you all to know that. It feels great. I’m glad the deal is done, and I’m just blessed and honored to be out here. Things almost got a little teary-eyed today, but I’m just happy to be out here. I’m ready to learn and ready to win.”

"It is a dream come true," Irving said. "Most definitely, especially after what I’ve been through. I feel grateful to be here.”

After so much time away from the game, Moore and Irving were expecting to go through an adjustment period while adapting to the speed of the pro game, and they  worked through their miscues on day one.

“It was OK," Moore said of his first practice. "I made a few mistakes today, but everything I did, I did full speed. I’m learning, and (Secondary) Coach (Ron) Milus and (Assistant Secondary) Coach (Sam) Garnes are doing a good job of coaching me at every step.”

Moore received plenty of attention from the secondary coaches as they instructed him after almost every play in 7-on-7 drills, helping him along as he worked against the first-team offense right off the bat.

Irving wasn't tasked with playing against the Broncos' top offensive unit, but he was quick to notice the intensity of an NFL practice.

The linebacker admitted he only had the opportunity to study the playbook for "maybe three days," so there were some growing pains. But Irving knows that's all part of the life as a newcomer.

“It’s tough, but that’s what happens when you’re a rookie," Irving said. "You won’t know everything, but you have to show the coaches you’re willing to play 100 miles per hour and do what you’ve got to do.”

“I got a lot of mental reps and watched the guys in front of me.”

Moore and Irving will strive to get more and more comfortable with each practice as training camp progresses and both players intend on contributing to the team once the season begins.

But for now, the best lessons will be learned out there on the practice field, where Moore and Irving can now call themselves professionals.

"You’ve got to grow up some day," Moore said. "And get thrown in the fire."