Rookie receiver Madise making Pro Bowl-worthy catches
Posted: Sunday July 27, 2003 11:31 AM
This is the second in a series of postcards Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training camp tour.
Friday, July 25
Team: Denver Broncos
Denver, at the Broncos' complex in the southwest suburbs. The Broncos trained forever in Greeley, at Northern Colorado (home university of Accuser of Kobe), but because of construction at the school this year and the fact that water restrictions might have foiled Denver's attempts to keep fields green, they moved home for the three and a half weeks of camp. This is not a good thing for fans. More about that later.
Five hundred Denver fans are allowed in, on free tickets, to every practice session. This is not a good thing for fans. More about that later.
Wide receiver Adrian Madise. OK, I'm going to make one of my ridiculous statements now. (You know, such as when I predicted Hines Ward would be rookie of the year, or when I told fantasy players to pick Danny Wuerffel high last year. So I am warning you: Do not listen to me right now. I am a sick man.) Madise is a 5-foot-11, 215-pound rookie from TCU, and was Denver's fifth-round pick this year. I am telling you -- Adrian Madise will play in the Pro Bowl some day. One pass in Friday morning's practice told me everything I needed to know about him. Madise had just cut inside on a crossing route, and the ball was whistling through the air. Surely it would be past him before he could react and catch it. Well, Madise thrust his gloved hands ahead of him, and I swear he caught the back end of this bullet, just as it was about to blow past. What a catch. That ball should have never touched his hands, and he caught it and sped upfield. I mentioned the catch to Mike Shanahan later, and he smiled. "Why do you think we signed him to a five-year contract?" he said. In other words, he doesn't want to develop Madise, then lose him once Ed McCaffery and Rod Smith are gone.
1. Denver has three players numbered five or lower from the University of Hawaii: kicker Jason Elam (1), quarterback Nick Rolovich (2) and punter Mat McBriar (5).
2. Denver has a Marlion (Jackson), a KaRon (Coleman), a Kenoy (Kennedy), a Jashon (Sykes) and a Trohn (Carswell).
3. There is no one named Joe or Dave on the 80-man roster.
1. I think the Broncs had a rough first workout. A running back they really have high hopes for, Quentin Griffin, the fourth-rounder from Oklahoma, broke a bone in his leg and will be out for a month. And first-round tackle George Foster, a mountain of a man, suffered a right foot injury that had him limping badly. "I've been hurt before, but I've never felt pain like that,"
2. I think there is no better wide receiver/team leader in the game than Rod Smith, and that includes Jerry Rice. Not to dis Jerry (who ever could?) but Smith is the heartbeat of this team. When he speaks, it's like listening to a mini-Shanahan. Plus, every day he practices, he's dying to get better.
3. I think former defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes isn't here anymore not only as a result of a lack of production by the Denver defense(just nine interceptions last year and horrible red-zone and third-down defenses), but also because he simply stopped communicating with a bunch of his defensive assistants. That's no way way to run a railroad.
4. I think that punter from Hawaii, McBriar, will definitely find a roster spot somewhere in the NFL this year. What a foot! He punts the ball like Darren Bennett -- high and long -- which is not a coincidence. McBriar is also an Aussie.
5. I think Jake Plummer is in the perfect place for him. He looks happy. He's throwing the ball well. He's becoming the anti-Griese, hosting nights out with the offensive line already. He's going to be really good, I think.
Now this is a beautiful setting for a training camp -- for the players and coaches and media. Close to town, right at home, see the wife and kids every day. But the Denver way always has been to make training camp a happening for the legions of Orange Crush fans who take vacation time to worship their team in the preseason. And now the Broncos have limited attendance to 500 fans per session. The tickets are free, but they were snapped up almost immediately when the team announed the plan. If you roll out of bed in the morning and say, "Hey, Mabel, let's go see that new Plummer kid wing the old pigskin," forget it. You can't go.
Entree: Grilled hamburger on a roll, slightly dry and too well done to suit my taste. Nice fixins, though, with tomato, bermuda onion and leaf lettuce. Grade: B-minus.
Salad: Excellent romaine (I think), celery, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, with a nice Newman's Own Ranch dressing. Did you know that four cherry tomatoes a day keeps the prostate cancer away? Grade: A.
Dessert: One chocolate chip cookie. Seemed a little Spunkmeyerish to me. Don't NFL players deserve handmade, homemade cookies? And NFL writers? Grade: C-plus.
Drink: Dasani water. I mean, how many plugs can I give one filtered water firm? Grade: B.
Overall grade: B-minus. I don't know. I think I'm coming off as the lunch ogre. But I'm still waiting for the lunch that knocks my socks off.
Training camp should be, in part, a fan's way to connect with his team. It should be a way for fans to look Rod Smith in the eye and say, "Good luck this year, we're pulling for you." But with the restrictions some of these teams are placing on fans ... well, I know they can't accomodate everyone, but 500 fans per session is just too few.
"I think they've got to find a way to get the fans back into camp," Smith said. "Five hundred isn't enough. They ought to pack them in here and give us a great environment to practice in. That's what was great about Greeley -- all those fans, and they'd get loud when we were doing something good. We're used to it. I want them back."
He should have them.
Arizona Cardinals, Flagstaff, Ariz.
Check back soon for more of Peter King's Postcards from Camp.