ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When the lockout was lifted and linebacker Mike Mohamed arrived at the Broncos facility, things moved incredibly fast.
"Everything was just 1000 miles an hour," he said, recalling his first days in professional football.
The pace has finally slowed now.
After a thrilling season that ended with a loss to the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Mohamed can catch his breath.
But that chance to unwind came a bit sooner than he would have liked.
"It was a special year," Mohamed said. "Unfortunately it ended faster than we wanted it to."
Mohamed's first NFL season came with its fair share of excitement and challenges. The sixth round draft pick out of Cal spent time on the Broncos practice squad and 53-man roster but was activated for only two games.
"When you come from college and basically being the guy playing every down to being back down at the bottom – it's really hard," Mohamed said. "Being on practice squad was tough, too, because I wanted to contribute, I wanted to be out there with my teammates on the field. But that's just the way that it works out. I didn't let it get me down. I just tried to work through it."
The rookie linebacker stayed focused despite the lack of playing time and took advantage of the opportunity to learn from the veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.
"I learned a lot, especially just how to be a professional, getting to watch a lot of the older guys," Mohamed said. "I didn't really get to play that much this year, but from the outside looking in I got to learn."
Mohamed will take those lessons into his first professional offseason – a critical stretch for him as he hopes to push for playing time in his second year.
"I'm a lot more familiar with the coaches and players and the system. I just need to definitely work on my strength, get a little bit bigger and work on foot quickness," Mohamed said. "I think having a season under my belt will help."
Linebackers Coach Richard Smith said he is impressed with Mohamed's ability to play all three linebacker positions in the 4-3 defense, and he's looking forward to watching his development.
"He's a young kid who's been working to get bigger and stronger -- he's done a nice job in that area and will continue to do that," Smith said. "So we'll see how he looks next year."
Mohamed knows the 2011 season he and his Broncos teammates enjoyed was a truly memorable one.
A season a wide-eyed rookie can value and appreciate.
"This is my first team in the pros but some of the things we did this year, you don't have to be in the pros very long to know that it's special," Mohamed said. "Some of the comeback wins at the very end of the games, the way we just fought through adversity, the 1-4 start to the second round of the playoffs – it was a special year."