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Broncos rookie doing flips in camp

DENVER (AP) - The best play at the Denver Broncos' first day of camp wasn't Javon Walker coming down with the ball on a deflected pass, David Kircus hauling in a 50-yard reception from Jay Cutler between three defenders or Todd Sauerbrun booting an 80-yard punt.

No, the top performance occurred during team stretching when rookie defensive tackle Marcus Thomas was called out in front of the group in a tradition the players call "break down." Some players do a little dance, others a little shake. Some are laughed at, others are admired for their athleticism or rhythm.

Thomas, a 300-pound-plus defensive tackle from Florida, did a back-flip that so astonished his teammates he was quickly mobbed by several of them as the crowd roared its approval.

"I actually saw it in college once and when he did his workouts for the pro scouts," coach Mike Shanahan said. "A lot of his coaches were there. During that time, he started his workouts doing that so I had kind of anticipated it. Most of our players never see that, so they are a little bit surprised. He did a round off and a back flip, not many guys can do that at 325 pounds."

"That was impressive," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. "You know we have been practicing that for two weeks. I think I'll try to do that tomorrow."

Pro Bowl safety Champ Bailey laughed when asked when he'll follow suit.

"When you put some money on the table," he said. "I get paid a lot of money to play football. If you want to pay me to do a back flip, I will do a couple for you.

"The first time I've seen that," Bailey added. "A big guy like that."

"My jaw dropped," pass-rusher Kenard Lang said. "I certainly can't do that."

Thomas hopes to impress in practice, too.

One of those who raised eyebrows on Day 1 was Sauerbrun, who provided the highlight of the afternoon workout with his 80-yard punt.

"I have been watching him since he has been here. If he gets a little bit of wind he is trying to make field goals from back there," Shanahan said. "One of his punts had almost six seconds of hang time. He punted extremely well and he has had a good offseason program. Hopefully he can keep it up."

Sauerbrun rejoined the Broncos in the offseason after he was ruled a free agent. He was waived by the Broncos last year after using a weight-loss product containing the dietary aid ephedra, which is banned by the NFL.

MOSS DEBUT: One day after signing a five-year deal that could top out at $18 million, first-round draft pick Jarvis Moss had an up-and-down debut.

"In the morning I didn't have a really good pass rush and there were a couple things that coach and I were working on for this afternoon and I came out this afternoon and made the corrections as far as my angling off the line of scrimmage," Moss said.

"I didn't do well on my pass rush and I was really down on myself about it so I'm going to go watch the film tonight and I'm going to go work. I'm just going to go look at myself and break down everything I did well and break down the bad things too and see if I can't come out tomorrow and just correct them all."

Moss also got the rookie treatment.

"It's camp time so all the older guys are starting to pick up their bullying but we're having a good time," Moss said. "You go through the same thing when you first get into college. I was prepared for it coming in yesterday."

And he does sort of feel like a freshman again.

"There are guys jumping on you, picking on you," he said. "As you can see, I've got four helmets to carry in, but I'll just do my part and hopefully they'll let up a little once they see what I'm bringing to the table."

FIRST SCARE: The first scare of training camp came about 90 minutes into the workout Sunday when wide receiver Javon Walker and linebacker Nate Webster collided. Walker stayed down for a minute and Webster for a couple before getting up.

It was a scary sight for a team that's thin at both positions because of injuries.

Walker shook it off and made a spectacular grab on a ball that was deflected by cornerback Karl Paymah 10 minutes later.

With Rod Smith (hip) and Brandon Marshall (thigh) injured, Domenik Hixon started alongside Walker with the starting unit during drills. Newcomer Brandon Stokley was the third wide receiver and David Kircus the fourth.

Marshall hopes to return in a week and a half, and Smith has no timetable for his return.

On Sunday, Walker moved from split end to flanker, the position he played in Green Bay, and Hixon went to split end. Hixon has been playing all three wide receiver positions but this was his first extended look at split end.

"I've been playing everything. They've been plugging me in here for a day, there for a day, testing my knowledge, see if I know it all," Hixon said.

NEW BOSS: Things were a little bit louder Saturday with assistant head coach Jim Bates in charge of the defense. He alternately hollered at his players to celebrate successes and disavow failures.

"He is going to make sure you know when you do good and when you don't," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said.

"I love it," Champ Bailey said. "He's loud and rowdy. He wants perfection on every play and I love that. I demand perfection out of myself. And my teammates and the guys around me."

EXTRA POINTS: With Eddie Moore (knee) released, free agent Warrick Holdman, a ninth-year pro who started all 16 games for Washington last season, worked at linebacker with starters D.J. Williams and Ian Gold. The first player to substitute in was D.D. Lewis. Bates said the position is wide open and five linebackers will get the chance to win the job.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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