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Inside the Broncos' rookie orientation

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Class is officially in session.

On their first day in the building, Broncos rookies got right to work when they joined Director of Player Development Ray Jackson for their opening meeting.

Jackson, who will lead an orientation program designed to help rookies adjust to the NFL, began Thursday's general session by reminding the rookies of the Broncos' winning tradition and their overwhelming goal: to win a Super Bowl.

"One thing: Every year, one rookie class is going to win the Super Bowl," Jackson told the rookies. "Think about that."

In the spirit of that message, Jackson showed three highlight videos to the rookies that focused on the value of dedication and the thrill of winning a Lombardi Trophy.

And as Jackson looked to tie it back to the 25 players in the auditorium, he offered up another simple question: Couldn't each rookie see themselves making a play that leads to a victory?

The competition will be stiff, and Jackson reminded the rookies of that fact. Von Miller and Demaryius Thomas aren't graduating; They're still there to compete against, and that makes the rookies' task all the more challenging.

To give the rookie class a better sense of the Broncos' recent and distant history, Jackson turned to Ring of Famer Billy Thompson. The former defensive back serves as the Broncos' director of community outreach, and he spent a few minutes giving the rookies an overview of Denver's football history.

"I've been where you guys are going," Thompson said. "We have a thing here about winning. … We come to play and we come to win."

The Broncos' rookie program acknowledges that winning on the field is in direct relation with winning off the field.

Early Friday morning, the group got intensive training in handling social media and interacting with the press, courtesy of the Broncos' public relations staff. Patrick Smyth, the Broncos' executive vice president of public relations, spent an hour with the rookies and took them through a variety of examples showing players constructively using social media as well as mistakes fellow athletes have made.

Among other points, Smyth emphasized the need for rookies to understand that social media is a "tool not a toy" and that they should "add value" with anything they post. He also explained to them that their primary audience for their comments are their teammates and coaches as well as the fans.

Smyth referenced Broncos three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who had some important advice for the rookies when it comes to the media.

"If you always put football first," Harris said, "you'll never have a problem with the media or social media."

Smyth echoed that sentiment, and he shared the thread that connected several of the NFL's greatest players.

"Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware and Champ Bailey all had one thing in common: They all put football first but were also so aware of portraying a positive image, at all times," Smyth said.

As the rookies wrapped up the second session, Smyth invited KUSA's Mike Klis to speak on the media's perspective and what the new Broncos should expect from the local press.

And in a fun way to wrap things up, DeMarcus Walker, De'Angelo Henderson and Chad Kelly each had the chance to undergo a mock interview with Klis.

When pressed by Klis about whether he expected to start as a rookie, Kelly navigated the response like a pro.

"I'm going to contribute in any way I can to help this team," Kelly said.

At least through two days, it seems like the rookies are learning fast.

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