|Broncos have signed all their picks, but will begin camp with Smith on the sideline|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 28 July 2007 13:53|
However, Rod Smith, the team's career leader in receptions and touchdowns, is among a handful of veterans who will start camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Smith is still recovering from offseason hip surgery. He says he hasn't entertained thoughts of retiring, but acknowledges he doesn't have a roster spot secure.
``I'm not worried about it, I've just got to try to get better, and basically what that does is gives me the opportunity to go out and get the work that I need,'' said Smith, who will spend his days working out with strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten instead of catching passes from Jay Cutler.
The 37-year-old receiver, who has more receptions (849), yards receiving (11,389) and touchdowns (68) than any undrafted player in NFL history, gained just 512 yards last year, only the second time in 10 years he hasn't reached 1,000.
In February he went in for what was supposed to a routine procedure but the operation turned into a major surgery to fix a torn labrum, frayed cartilage, bone spurs and floating fragments.
Smith has no idea when he'll be healthy.
``The thing is I have to basically listen to my body for once in my life,'' Smith said. ``When it's ready to go, I'll know. And hopefully that's in a great time frame for me to go and get back out on the field during this camp and go back to doing what I do.''
Joining the 14-year veteran Smith on the sideline will be wide receiver Brandon Marshall (thigh) and tight end Tony Scheffler (foot), two second-year players who hope to have big roles in the offense.
Marshall is expected to unseat Smith as the team's No. 2 wide receiver, although his injury-filled offseason has put a crimp in those plans.
``It's a setback,'' lamented Marshall, who missed most of training camp last year with a knee injury.
Marshall figured he might miss up to 10 days.
``It (stinks) to start off the season like this, but I'll be back,'' he said. ``I'm a competitor and I'm going to push myself and I'm going to hit the books hard, so I'll be all right.''
With Smith and Marshall out, second-year pro Domenik Hixon, who missed all of last season with a broken foot, should get plenty of snaps opposite Javon Walker.
New defensive boss Jim Bates said free agent strongside linebacker Eddie Moore will also begin camp on the PUP list because of a lingering knee injury.
``He's still having trouble with the knee, probably will have to have it scoped again,'' Bates said. ``And we'll just have to see where he is four or five weeks from now, wherever the timetable or his rehab would be.''
That doesn't mean the job will necessarily go to fellow free agent Warrick Holdman, although the nine-year veteran will get the first shot.
``The Sam (linebacker) position on the defense is as wide open as any,'' Bates said. ``We're going to try as many as five guys, watch it unfold.''
D.J. Williams, who played the position last year, has moved to middle linebacker with the release of Al Wilson, a team captain whose neck injury and high salary led to his offseason departure.
Of the Broncos' four draft picks, three are defensive linemen, Moss, Crowder and Marcus Thomas. Crowder signed a four-year deal. Neither his agent nor Moss's returned phone messages seeking comment.