ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --For a handful of Broncos defenders, Kyle Orton represented their first, daily experience facing an NFL quarterback.
And for some, it was humbling.
"My rookie year, man, he was toasting me," said safety Rahim Moore. "They were hitting me with double moves, triple moves. They gave me my rookie welcome party on the first day."
That training camp of 2011 was unusual; it followed a four-month lockout that wiped out organized team activities, which made the start of training camp the practice debut for Moore and the other rookies, a handful of whom opened on the first team. Against a seasoned quarterback, it was like being tossed into a fire pit.
"Oh, man, it was not good," Moore recalled. "And everybody's looking, like, 'What's up? This guy (Moore) is supposed to be (good).' He had a field day. He kind of picked on me a little bit, too."
"He was tough on the rookies. Every day he wanted to try to embarrass us," said fellow 2011 rookie Chris Harris Jr., with a laugh. "But that's what Kyle's going to do: he's going to challenge us."
When Moore looks back, he says the experience of facing Orton "absolutely" made him a better safety.
"He's very feisty," Moore said. "He's very, very ultra-competitive. I mean, he doesn't want to lose. He doesn't want to lose in ping-pong. He doesn't want to lose in any game."
Orton arrives having stabilized the Buffalo offense. He took over the starting duties at Detroit in Week 5 and immediately led the Bills to a 17-14 win. Buffalo is 5-3 in Orton's starts, as he guided them through the adversity of losing electric running back C.J. Spiller to a broken collarbone during the Week 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Although the Bills' ground game crumbled without their most explosive player, the passing game became more efficient. If Orton maintains his current quarterback rating of 92.0, it will be his career high among seasons in which he threw more than 10 passes.
With Orton at the helm, Buffalo's average per pass play increased from 5.75 yards to 5.96 yards. Its first-down rate improved from one every 3.54 pass plays to one every 3.10. The interception rate dropped from 2.27 percent to 1.72 percent. The completion percentage increased from 57.58 to 64.26. The third-down conversion rate and red-zone touchdown percentage also increased.
Orton has a pair of potentially dynamic receivers at his disposal in Robert Woods and rookie Sammy Watkins, which has helped, although Watkins has endured some typical rookie ups and downs.
"He's very explosive. He's pretty raw right now; he's still developing, but I think he's going to be really good, and he's gotten better as the season has gone on," Harris said. "And Woods is one of their main playmakers."
And Orton's experience has provided a steady hand to an offense that needed it.
"He's still the same. He's still making plays and he's very accurate and he's making great throws," Moore said. "When it comes to him dropping back and knowing where to throw and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the defense, he can pick you apart."
BUFFALO BY THE NUMBERS
- Yards per game: 319.9, 24th
- Yards per play: 5.07, 27th
- Giveaways: 16, T-11th
- First-down rate: One every 4.08 plays, 31st
- Third-down conversion rate: 36.3 percent, 26th
- Yards per game: 221.8, 21st
- Yards per pass play: 5.90, 25th
- Sack rate: One per 16.11 pass plays, 19th
- Touchdown rate: One every 25.06 pass plays, 19th
- Quarterback hit rate: One per 6.73 pass plays, 12th
- First-down rate: One per 2.77 pass plays, 9th
- Drop rate (per STATS, Inc.):One per 17.44 opportunities, 32nd
- Yards after catch per reception (per STATS, Inc.): 6.08, 7th
- Yards per game: 98.17, 24th
- Yards per rush: 3.84, 24th
- First-down rate: One every 6.67 carries, 32nd
- Touchdown rate: One every 61.40 carries, 30th
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