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Broncos' Moreno, Ayers miss start of camp as Bailey sits

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Knowshon was a no-show, and Champ Bailey a no-go.

Knowshon Moreno was absent along with fellow first-round draft pick Robert Ayers when the Denver Broncos kicked off training camp Friday under new coach Josh McDaniels, making them the first rookie holdouts in Denver since running back Tatum Bell showed up late in 2004.

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Bailey, the perennial Pro Bowl cornerback who suffered through an injury-filled 2008 season and underwent offseason elbow surgery, recently said he was 100 percent. But he was held out of the team's first workout along with defensive tackle Marcus Thomas and safety Renaldo Hill.

McDaniels declined to divulge why they were out, saying it was his policy not to discuss injuries, even on July 31, six weeks ahead of the season.

"They'll be out here when they're ready to practice," McDaniels said.

All three players ran 50-yard sprints before the morning practice.

The Broncos are counting on a bounce-back season from Bailey, whose streak of eight straight Pro Bowls came to a halt after he missed seven games with a torn groin last season and Denver's defense unraveled.

Moreno, a running back from Georgia, was the 12th overall pick in the draft, and Ayers, a pass-rusher from Tennessee, was the 18th selection.

"I think every day that they miss hurts their opportunity to create a role on our team, or a bigger role on our team," McDaniels said. "Obviously, they'll have a role. But they're missing meetings and installations and walkthroughs and practice time and film study and all that stuff. So, we're eager to have them here."

In their absence, some other young players made good first impressions on the new coaching staff with their first full-pads practice since McDaniels replaced Mike Shanahan over the winter.

Second-year running back Ryan Torain made several spectacular plays and pass-rushers Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder, who are switching from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Broncos' new 3-4 scheme, showed they're a better fit in this system than they were in the old 4-3 alignment.

One player who returned to practice Friday was recalcitrant receiver Brandon Marshall, who is unhappy with his contract and has asked for a trade. After practicing Monday, Marshall sat out two days of workouts with rookies and other veterans who were coming off injuries.

On Friday, he delighted the crowd with a series of difficult grabs.

"That was good to see," slot receiver Brandon Stokley said. "He came out here, I mean, he looked really good."

"Yeah, he definitely showed up, made some big plays," McDaniels said. "He's an explosive guy and it's a good sign to see him out there running and we'll see how his body reacts to it. This is really the first full practice."

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It was hard to tell that Marshall had undergone hip surgery just four months earlier.

"Only he knows what his limits are, but he looked great to me," safety Brian Dawkins said.

Marshall has a cloud hanging over him, however. He faces a trial next month in Atlanta on a misdemeanor battery charge. A conviction would almost certainly result in a suspension to start the season for the second straight year.

For the first time in 15 years, the Broncos opened camp without Shanahan running the show. He was fired on Dec. 30 after Denver missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

McDaniels, 33, who tutored Tom Brady and Matt Cassel in New England, quickly put his imprint on the Broncos, trading Pro Bowl passer Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton, whom he named his starting quarterback last month, and three draft picks.

The Broncos were the league's most active team in free agency and 42 of the 80 players on their roster weren't here last year.

Not many players were smiling after the full-pads workout, but backup quarterback Chris Simms was.

"I do enjoy it. It's always exciting to get out here the first time, get the pads on," Simms said. "Training camp is never an NFL football player's favorite thing in the world, let's be honest. But it means football season is here."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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