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Rookie RB Moreno finally practices for Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos were pleased to get Knowshon Moreno into camp and not just because their top draft pick is the cornerstone of coach Josh McDaniels' reconstruction project.

"Now we've got a new rookie to haze on and sing for us and do a few little extracurricular activities to make training camp go by a little faster," receiver Brandon Stokley said with a smile.

Moreno, the top running back selected in the NFL draft, should make the Broncos' offense move faster.

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The exceptional University of Georgia running back who joined Herschel Walker as the only Bulldogs to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, was the 12th overall pick and the first selection made by McDaniels, who replaced Mike Shanahan in the offseason.

Moreno held out for eight days before signing a five-year, $23 million deal Saturday.

"It's definitely a lot better with Knowshon out there, we know he's a great talent and I wish I could have six of him out there with me," fullback Peyton Hillis said. "He's going to do great things for this team."

Even though he missed a dozen practices, Moreno will play Friday night at San Francisco in the Broncos' preseason opener, McDaniels said.

Moreno's long-awaited Denver debut included flashes of the smarts and skills that persuaded McDaniels to make him his top draft choice but it also was chock-full of mental mistakes.

"Missing those days hurt," Moreno said. "But at the same time, I'm in that play book. I'm getting here early with the coach and studying again, so it's all going well.

"I'm behind, but I'm out here and I'm having fun."

McDaniels enjoyed at long last watching his new running back at work.

"They had a hard time tackling him in the tackling drill. He can run between the tackles, run outside. He's what we thought he was when we drafted him and he's just going to add more of all that to our backfield," McDaniels said. "So, it was a decent first day. I know he made some mistakes and he's got a long ways to go and he knows that. But, he's working the way he needs to work to catch up."

Moreno was expected to be rested but rusty and he didn't disappoint.

"Yeah, he's every bit of the 217 pounds that we want him to play at and he showed good quickness. Again, mentally he made the mistakes that I thought he would make today, too," McDaniels said.

Hillis said Moreno will quickly catch up.

"Give him a few days, even a couple of weeks, he'll get in the groove of things and he's going to be great," Hillis said. "Today was his first day, he's going to be kind of sluggish."

Wearing full pads for the first time since leading Georgia to a win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day, Moreno continued his crash course in the intricate offense McDaniels is installing.

Moreno wouldn't venture a guess as to whether he'll grasp it quickly enough to beat out free agents LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter, among others, for the starting tailback job this season.

"I think it's too early to even talk about that," Moreno said. "I'm just now getting back, getting into the flow of things and guys have been out here working hard. I've got to catch back up with that and get used to this air again."

Notes: Brandon Marshall has missed a week of workouts with a leg injury, but McDaniels said he's not worried about his star receiver not being ready for the season opener: "He's in all the meetings, he sees all the film sessions, sees all the corrections, so I'm not concerned with that. We still have over a month left for that to come into the fold." ... Mario Haggan, who has been converted from inside linebacker to the outside in the Broncos' 3-4 scheme, worked with the starters for the first time Sunday.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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