ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --For most rookies, the first few days of training camp are spent with their heads spinning as they try to learn the playbook while keeping up with the fast pace of an NFL practice.
For linebacker Danny Trevathan, there's also the fact that he's trying to learn three different linebacker positions – all while practicing against a first-team offense led by four-time NFL MVP Demaryius Thomas.
"It's been hectic," he said of his first few practices. "You have to hang in there. It's tough out here, but you have to be that guy – when you're called on you know how to handle yourself. Coach has done a good job of teaching me and throwing me into the fire. I have to be able to crawl my way out of there."
Trevathan, who the team selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, showed plenty of production in college as he led the SEC in tackles back-to-back years.
It was that play-making ability that the Broncos' front office saw on tape while researching this year's draft class.
"Danny's a natural playmaker," Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "He's taken a lot of reps in our sub-package right now. He's got quickness. He's got great instincts and anticipation. He didn't lead the SEC in tackles the last couple of years without having a nose for the football."
Last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller has been impressed with Trevathan's knack for being around the ball.
"He led the SEC in tackling two years in a row, and that's pretty impressive in itself," Miller said. "When he gets our here and you see him running around you see exactly why. He has a nose for the ball. He's pretty instinctive. And he just knows how to make plays."
Now, Trevathan is working on keeping his natural instinctive style of playing while at the same time staying within Del Rio's defensive scheme.
"You're playing who you are, but you're playing within the scheme," Trevathan said about making the adjustment to the NFL. "Del Rio is a great coach. He's a players' coach and I'm used to that, so I appreciate him for that."
When Linebackers Coach Richard Smith told him that he'd be running with the first-team nickel defense, Trevathan didn't hesitate or show any signs of nerves.
"All three positions, you have to be prepared," Trevathan said. "I was really studying and he kind of told me, 'You have to be ready to be thrown in the fire.' I really took heed of that. I studied my playbook with the younger guys. The older guys are always going to be behind us to help us with whatever we need."
That off-the-field preparation has translated on the field and led to more reps for the rookie.
Middle linebacker Joe Mays has noticed Trevathan standing out early in camp.
"He made a pretty good impression," Mays said. "The guy's fast, he can flow. He can get to the ball. He's a playmaker. He's one of those guys where you don't really have to teach him too much. The game pretty much comes natural to him and he's able to go out there and perform. So, he's going to be a pretty good addition to the team."
Del Rio said he's looking forward to seeing how Trevathan continues to improve with each practice.
"I like the way he started camp," Del Rio said. "He's kind of a kid that, you know, rookies come in different ways. (Some) have it all figured out. Some kids come in and they're just ready to work – he's that kind of guy. He's come in and he's soaking it up and taking all the coaching. He's soaking it up and working his trade. I like that about him."