Broncos put on stable show
Updated: Tuesday July 31, 2001 12:35 PM
This is the eighth in a series of postcards Sports Illustrated's Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training camp tour.
Monday, July 30
Team: Denver Broncos
Site: The Rocky Mountain broiler known as the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. While I watched the two-hour, 20-minute Sunday morning practice, I stood in the shadow of a thin light pole because it was the only shade on the field baking in 98-degree heat.
Five observations from practice that you just can't get anywhere else:
1. If I'm Tom Rouen, the veteran punter (and, apropos of nothing, Amy Van Dyken's husband), I'm checking the waiver wire. There's a new sheriff in town. His name is Nick Harris, the team's fourth-round pick this year, and unless my eyes are failing me, Harris is five yards better than Rouen, consistently. The rookie's only weakness is he's slow getting the kick off, which I expect special-teams coach Frank Bush to fix by Opening Day.
2. Brian Griese looks terrific. Mike Shanahan is holding the QB out of one practice a day as a precaution -- if you recall, Griese dislocated his throwing shoulder a year ago and had successful postseason surgery on it -- but if you saw his perfect 45-yard post throw to Rod Smith, you'd know he's OK.
3. Whither Terrell Davis? He won't admit this, but my guess is Davis was thrilled to have missed the ultra-physical morning practice Sunday (Shanahan is being cautious with the oft-injured running back). "There's no problem with the hamstring," said Davis, who was pulled out of Friday's workout because of some tightness there. Well, if there's no problem with the hamstring, it seems pretty weird to be getting practices off because of it. This team is smart not to trade Mike Anderson or Olandis Gary. How do the Broncos know whether Davis can stay healthy for an entire season? And how do they know whether Gary's surgically repaired knee is going to be strong for 16 weeks? Speaking of Anderson, he might be the best-looking back I've seen in eight camps so far. He lost 12 pounds, looks chiseled, and makes a very loud sound when he bashes into the defensive lads.
4. I am going to say something sacrilegious right now. This team does not miss John Elway.
5. Third-round pick Reggie Hayward, a defensive end from Iowa State, earned incredible props from Shanahan when he was on the outside, rushing, during a punt-block drill: "They can't block you, Reggie! They can't block you!"
Opinion/factoid that might be interesting only to me: When linebacker Bill Romanowski checked into camp last week in his pickup truck, he had 11 boxes of vitamins, an oxygen tank, a hyperbaric chamber and a "Spa-N-A-Box'' portable hot tub.
The food: An impressive showing at dinner Sunday night. Very impressive. It rivaled my Browns' meal last week. Here goes:
A meal like this makes you forget the quasi-hard times on the NFL training camp trail, like the one that follows.
Dear NFL Junkie ...
Now you will know the truth about traveling the NFL training camp circuit.
It really is a fun life.
Like Monday, early in the morning. I flew into Denver from Nashville just before midnight and rental-carred it up to Greeley, about an hour north. Then I walked up to the front desk of the Best Western Ramkota in downtown Greeley.
"Reservation for King," I said, putting the AmEx card on the counter.
Immediate consternation. Mandy, behind the counter, can't find my reservation. The hotel is full. "Your reservation was cancelled earlier today," she said.
"By whom?" I said. "Why would I cancel the reservation if I was coming to the hotel?"
"I don't know," she said. "It doesn't say. But there's nothing I can do. We have no rooms."
Much hand-wringing and anger followed. No need to make a fool of myself here. But Mandy did find me a room, complete with three insects, at the Days Inn in Fort Collins.
Forty minutes away.
Three hours of sleep. Back in Greeley by 6:45 that morning to interview Mike Shanahan for CNN's "NFL Preview." Then a day at camp. A good day, actually, with the aforementioned meal in the Northern Colorado dining hall a very positive capper.
Until this morning at 7, when I gathered up eight days of laundry and lugged it to Scrub Tub near campus. Hey, I packed light this year, figuring that an occasional trip to the laundromat is better than lugging heavy luggage all over America. A 20-ish kid kept looking at me, then finally walked over after I had just finished loading my whites in the Maytag.
"Do you work for CNN?" the UNC-looking student said. "I thought you looked familiar," he said.
"Yeah, I'm on sometimes," I said.
"Are you Mr. Edelstein?" he said.
Ouch. Now that's a first.
Next up: Baltimore Ravens, but not until next Monday. Hope that won't leave you hanging. A few days of writing and putting the feet up at the King ranch lie ahead.