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Notebook: Rookie Minicamp Provides Head Start

Posted May 11, 2012

Draft picks Derek Wolfe, Brock Osweiler and Ronnie Hillman said they were excited -- and grateful -- for this weekend's rookie minicamp.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Defensive tackle Derek Wolfe knows from experience that veterans don't tend to enjoy camps designed to bring younger players up to speed.

"It gets old to the vets, I’d imagine, because it did for me when I was in college," he said.

But as one of the young players now, the rookie certainly appreciates the opportunity this weekend's rookie minicamp provides.

“I think it kind of slows things down for us so we’re not just thrown right into the fire," he said. "We’re all learning here. So I assume it’ll help slow it down for us a little bit.”

Running back Ronnie Hillman agreed, as it will help them get a head start before OTAs kick off in a little more than a week.

"I think it helps a lot," he said. You don’t come in and look like a rookie totally."

But as much as the camp is designed to get the players ready for NFL football on the field, there's much more to it.

“There are a lot of facets," Head Coach John Fox said. "We had meetings last night, administratively, PR, how to handle social media – there are a lot of dos and don’ts. A lot of that, with this being their first day really as an employee in the National Football league, there are a lot of things to go over – not just football.”

So how was day one on the job?

“It’s awesome," Osweiler said. "You think your head might be spinning and then you look to the receiver next to you and his head is probably spinning even faster. We’re all on one ship. We’re going down this river together and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m anxious to get back out there."

ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

Tempe, Ariz., Cincinnati and San Diego aren't exactly known for their mountainous terrain.

So it goes without saying that it will be a bit of a transition for Osweiler, Wolfe and Hillman to practicing and playing 5,280 feet above sea level.

"Honestly, I’ve been hearing stories about how tough it is and how you have to get after it," Hillman said. "So I prepared myself to come in and have to be tired with the air and being able to breathe (at altitude) and all that stuff. I don’t think there was a big surprise, but I just realized that everything that they said was true.”

Hillman and Osweiler both conceded that they could feel the effect of the altitude during their first NFL practice.

But Osweiler said that's another benefit of having a camp for the new guys.

"That’s what everybody says, ‘You’ll get used to it in time,'" he said. "That’s why we’re out here – get used to the altitude, get used to the playbook and just get used to everything.”

ALL BUSINESS

Playing in the NFL was a lifelong dream for many of the players taking part in this weekend's rookie minicamp.

“It feels great -- I’ve been playing this game since I was 8 years old," Hillman said. "Finally to get to be here and the Broncos giving me an opportunity, and I plan on capitalizing on it.”

Osweiler marveled a bit that he has a locker near quarterback Peyton Manning and right beside wide receiver Brandon Stokley.

But as exciting as this weekend is for the players, they're not letting that keep them from putting in the necessary work.

"It's the NFL now," Hillman said. "You have to get your mind right for the season."

Osweiler echoed that sentiment.

"I’m just looking at it as I’m playing football," he said. "It’s something I’ve done since first grade."

The Broncos' first pick in the draft might have summed it up best.

“There’s no sense in being star-struck by it," Wolfe said. "I just want to play.”

NUMBERS GAME

For some players, a jersey number is part of their identity.

So changing numbers as they enter the NFL ranks is a tough task.

Hillman, who wore No. 13 at San Diego State, went with No. 34 with the Broncos.

He chose it because it was the number of Ricky Williams and Walter Payton.

Wolfe was lucky in that his college number, 95, was available on the Broncos -- so he stuck with it.

For Osweiler, it was more of a blind selection.

The quarterback said there is "absolutely no significance" to him wearing No. 6.

"Basically, I was told I couldn’t have No. 17 (his college number), so I just kind of drew something out of a hat basically and that’s how I just kind of picked a number. Basically, I was like, ‘I’ve never been a single-digit number before, might as well try it, let’s go with six.’ I’m going to talk to (current No. 17, WR) Andre (Caldwell) and see if I can slip that 17 from him somehow. But, if I can’t, I’ll see how this No. 6 thing goes.”

"Hopefully I'll do some good things with it."

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