ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos defensive tackle Marcus Thomas believes he might have talked good friend Jarvis Moss into returning to the team rather than retiring.

Thomas, who attended the University of Florida with Moss and was in the same 2007 draft class, said he spoke with the defensive end/linebacker Sunday morning, one day after he left camp to ponder his NFL future.

Jarvis Moss , DE
Denver Broncos

2008 Statistics
Games/starts: 12/0
Tackles: 12
Sacks: 2.5

"I think he's going to turn around and come back soon," Thomas said. "He just wanted to prove to everybody that he's good. He's looking up now, so he's going to be back."

Moss, who turns 25 on Monday, has slipped down the Broncos' depth chart this season as he transitions from a pass rusher into an outside linebacker in the team's new 3-4 defense.

When training camp opened Friday, Moss praised the new scheme, saying "it's a brand new start for me."

The next day, he was gone.

So may be some of his money if Moss chooses to retire now.

Moss signed a nearly $15 million, five-year contract as the 17th overall draft pick in 2007, but the Broncos could try to recoup $3.6 million of his signing bonus. If Moss returns to the team and is cut -- a distinct possibility -- he would owe the Broncos nothing.

Moss hasn't returned messages from The Associated Press since leaving training camp.

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While Moss is currently running fifth on Denver's depth chart at outside linebacker, he surely will drop even more once first-round draft pick Robert Ayers ends his holdout.

That Moss bolted from camp came as a surprise to Tim Crowder, a defensive end who's also making the switch from down lineman to outside linebacker.

"It's a good friend, but you never know what guys are thinking sometimes," said Crowder, whom the Broncos drafted in the second round in 2007. "He was doing a great job. He had a really, really good first day of practice, so that's why it was shocking to everyone. We can just kind of hold our breath on the situation and go from there."

New Broncos coach Josh McDaniels called the matter a personal situation and didn't want to address it Sunday.

"When he's back, then hopefully we'll move forward," he said of Moss.

Moss has struggled to fit into the NFL ever since former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan moved up in the draft to select him, recording just 3.5 sacks in 18 career games. Moss played in six games as a rookie before fracturing his right leg. Last season, he suited up in 12 games and had 12 tackles.

While at Florida, Moss almost gave up on football after missing time because of a mysterious pain in his lower abdomen that made it nearly impossible to work out. Finally, a biopsy revealed an infection on his pelvic bone. After weeks of intravenous antibiotics, Moss started feeling more like himself, and he helped the Gators to a national title in 2006, turning in two sacks and forcing a fumble in a victory over Ohio State.

"I feel like he's been going through a lot ever since college," Thomas said. "He went through all that adversity, and I feel this little bit right here shouldn't affect him."

In his conversation with Moss, Thomas said he just spelled it out for his friend.

"I was putting in his head how he's going to feel in the long run," Thomas said. "Nobody wants to be sitting there watching everybody playing ... He's going to be back. I'm just going to be there to support him no matter what he does, though."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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