|Rookie stands out for all the right reasons|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 18 August 2008 15:10|
The 42nd overall pick in the NFL draft was projected to make his mark this season as a returner, not a receiver, but he's already surpassed veteran free agent newcomers Darrell Jackson, Keary Colbert and Samie Parker to earn a starting spot opposite Brandon Marshall.
``The kid's amazing,'' Marshall said. ``Honestly, when they first drafted him I was like, 'Who is this guy? Why'd we get him?' And now I see. The guy's a playmaker. I'm glad I've got him on the other side.''
Patience is not one of Royal's virtues - he earned his bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech in 3 1/2 years - and so it's not surprising that he wanted nothing to do with waiting his turn in the NFL.
``That was my mind-set before the draft even. I wanted to come in and contribute early for a team,'' Royal said. ``And when I came here, my goals didn't change.''
The last thing he wanted was for anyone to size him up as a rookie. Not teammates, not coaches, not fans.
``Normally, you associate a rookie with being lost and kind of playing a little bit slower than all the other guys. And you can normally point a rookie out and notice his mistakes. And I didn't want to be that guy,'' Royal said. ``I wanted my teammates and my coaches to be able to count on me, knowing that I know my responsibilities and I will come through in the clutch.''
Royal has done that, catching four passes for 80 yards in the preseason.
Against Dallas on Monday night, he had a 35-yard reception that highlighted Denver's opening touchdown drive, then he outjumped two defenders to haul in a 32-yarder that led to the Broncos' second TD.
Wide receivers usually lag behind players from other positions in adjusting from college to the NFL, but Royal is living up to his pledge not to look, act or play like a rookie.
He's played the slot, flanker and split end positions and hasn't seemed the least bit overwhelmed.
``Since Day One, I was impressed with him,'' quarterback Jay Cutler said. ``I didn't know he had those type of receiving skills, I thought we drafted him a little bit more as a returner. I didn't really realize he could be our starting Z (flanker). ``He's a go-getter. He picked up the offense quick. He attacks the football. He's got great speed, gets in and out of cuts. He's fun in the huddle. He understands what we're doing.''
Royal hit the play book right after draft day because the thing he feared the most was lining up in the wrong spot and hearing a coach or even someone in the crowd at training camp mention it.
He's the talk of camp, all right, making plays that even veteran receivers and defensive backs have to admire.
``You don't want to stand out for the wrong reasons,'' Royal said.
Coach Mike Shanahan is the one person at Dove Valley who professes not to be surprised by Royal's rise.
``We had him as the best wide receiver in the draft,'' Shanahan told The Associated Press. ``We had him No. 1. So, we felt very fortunate to get him there in the second round.
``And you never know until a person gets in how quickly he matures or how he handles the pressure, but he's handled it quite well.''
Royal, the fifth receiver chosen in the draft, isn't letting his overnight success go to his head, either, and special teams coach Scott O'Brien has to appreciate that.
While Royal has been flashing his skills on routes, he has yet to do so on returns, averaging 24 yards on two kickoff runbacks and returning his one and only punt for just 4 yards.
This is the one area Royal promises to practice patience, however.
``You can never press. You never know when it's going to happen. You've just got to stay patient and continue to have faith,'' he said. ``You look at it on film our guys have got good lanes, they're doing a good job of blocking and so it's just a matter of time before we pop one.''