ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Finally, it was time for football again.
After months of preparation for the draft -- both for the Broncos staff and the rookies -- Friday marked a return to the field.
"At this stage, you love getting back out on the grass. No doubt about that," Head Coach John Fox said. "The evaluation process is always a lot of fun, very time-consuming. A lot of hard work by a lot of people, but to get out on the grass and actually see guys in a Broncos uniform, working on the things we do, is always exciting."
In all, 37 players are at the team's Dove Valley facility for this weekend's rookie minicamp. It's a mix of 2014 NFL Draft picks, college free agents, first-year players and tryouts.
Regardless of how the player arrived at the Broncos' headquarters, the goal is the same -- to learn.
"Primarily it's about learning a new language. That's the way we describe things," Fox said. "Because ball at the end of the day is ball. Just getting them acclimated to the way we do things, the way we call things."
After Friday's practice, linebackers Lamin Barrow and Corey Nelson and offensive lineman Matt Paradis spoke with the media about the experience.
All three acknowledged that the first time they stepped into the locker room, it was a bit overwhelming.
"I was just kind of in awe of my surroundings," Paradis said.
"It was surreal," Barrow added. "You knew, like, 'Wow, I'm in the NFL.' It's a dream that you've had since you were a kid, and just to get your helmet and jersey, it just felt like a dream come true."
But once they hit the field, it was all about football again.
"It was exhilarating," Nelson said. "It was a great feeling to get out there for the first time. Just an amazing feeling. I was excited the whole time."
"Now that we're out here, it's time to put the pedal to the metal and whatever we learned, just put it on the field."
The players have two more days of practice in this weekend's minicamp, which wraps up on Sunday.
Fox said Friday's session was a good start.
"I liked their enthusiasm," he said. "We've got work to do on the execution part, but for a first practice, not all bad."