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Henry thrilled to be in Denver

DENVER (AP) - Travis Henry's resume includes three 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL, a trip to the Pro Bowl and a national championship in college.

Yet, his mantra on the first day of Denver Broncos training camp Sunday was this:

Nobody's seen the real me.

That's about to change now that the seventh-year pro is taking handoffs in running backs paradise.

Henry signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract this offseason with the Broncos, who have churned out a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of coach Mike Shanahan's 12 seasons.

"I've been in the league, this is my seventh year, and I think a lot of people ain't really seen what I can do yet," Henry said. "I think I get a chance to really show what I can do."

The Broncos sent last year's starter, Tatum Bell, to Detroit, marking the fourth straight offseason that Denver ditched its leading rusher. Bell and the others - Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns - all enjoyed success in the Broncos' ballyhooed zone blocking scheme, and Henry can't wait for his opportunity.

Despite his successes in Buffalo and Tennessee, Henry said his running style has never fit a blocking scheme better than it does in Denver.

"I'm the type of runner where I take one cut and I'm downhill," Henry said. "That's what zone-blocking is here. I think it fits me just right."

So do the Broncos, who guaranteed Henry $12 million after the Titans released him in a cost-saving move. The Titans, who owed him an $8.3 million bonus, had hoped he'd return after checking out the market, but once the Broncos came calling, Henry never looked back.

"Before I got here, I remember talking to other running backs and they were like, 'Boy, if I could ever get to Denver, the Denver line, the Denver line,"' Henry said.

But the scheme is just one piece of the puzzle and it's no guarantee for success without hard work, Henry said.

"I think they got it messed up when they say any back can come in and just do good - you've got to work," Henry said.

Henry said it's eaten at him over the years that his talents didn't fully mesh in Buffalo or Tennessee, but he believes he's got the perfect storm of scheme, style and savvy in Denver for him to join the likes of MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson in the league's upper echelon of running backs.

"I'm a competitor, so I want to be in the top with those guys, and you know I feel like being here I can have a chance to be up in that group, in that elite group," Henry said.

Henry, the career leading rusher at the University of Tennessee, was a Pro Bowler in 2002 for the Bills after rushing for 1,438 yards. But then Buffalo used a first-round pick to select Willis McGahee in the 2003 draft. Henry rushed for 1,356 yards in 2003 as McGahee recovered from a knee injury.

In 2004, Henry started just five games and rushed for only 326 yards, missing the final five with torn ligaments in his right ankle, as McGahee began to take over.

Henry didn't want to spend another season in McGahee's shadow and asked out. He received a fresh start in Tennessee with the 2005 trade, but he struggled to recover from the torn ligaments and then was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He finished the season with 88 carries for 335 yards.

He bounced back strong in 2006 with six 100-yard games, including a career-high 178-yard performance against Washington on Oct. 15. He helped the Titans overcome a slow start to finish 8-8 and took some of the pressure off rookie quarterback Vince Young.

Not only is Henry learning his new blockers' tendencies, but he's also realizing some other things are different in Denver, such as the expectations to finish plays. The Broncos have their ball carriers run out the play for a good 50 yards in practice, something that surprised Henry when he pulled up after clearing the front line of defenders on his first run Sunday.

"I was a little bit spoiled, so to speak, but here they emphasize finishing and they're really big on it and I think running 50 yards downfield is going to help us down the road in the conditioning," Henry said.

After all, what's a little extra work in running backs paradise?

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

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