ENGLEWOOD • Rookies in the NFL generally have plenty of talent and no clue.
They aren’t used to the complexities of the playbook, they don’t know how things are run in the NFL and many don’t understand the intricate details of the game. The smarter rookies, like Denver Broncos tight end Richard Quinn, watch the veterans and learn everything they can. Quinn said veteran tight end Daniel Graham has taken him under his wing.
“Just a little bit of everything, really,” Quinn said when asked what he has learned from Graham. “Just being a professional football player.”
Quinn has become more comfortable with what he is doing, although he still has plenty to learn. On defense, rookies have been fortunate to watch and learn from safety Brian Dawkins.
Many of Denver’s younger players — and even some veterans — have flocked to Dawkins, the seven-time Pro Bowler. He is considered one of the top leaders in the NFL and has taken on that role just a few months after signing with Denver.
Dawkins said when he was young, cornerback Troy Vincent and receiver Irving Fryar showed him the right way to do things. He copied the way they practiced, how they dealt with the media and how they became involved in the community.
“I definitely had some guys that helped me understand the privilege it is to play this game, and the work ethic you need to have a long career,” said Dawkins, who earlier this year was given the Byron “Whizzer” White Award for his service to his team and community.
Dawkins acknowledged that showing rookies how things are done helps the team. However, his main reason for doing it is a sense of obligation to others that helped him.
“I’ve been blessed to play a lot of years and have received a lot of wisdom from others, and I would feel it wouldn’t be right to keep it to myself,” Dawkins said. “And this game of football won’t be here for everybody all the time. We’re all going to hang ’em up at some point. If I can tell them something that’s going to help them off the field to be a better individual, I’m going to do that also.”
Players like Quinn are fortunate to be on the receiving end from someone like Graham, a team captain last year. Sometimes his education comes from asking questions. Other times, Quinn said Graham will pull him to the side and tell him what he just did wrong and how to correct it.
Other times Quinn just watches little things Graham does on the field, like how deep he goes on passing routes, and emulates him.
“He’s a really good guy, I respect him a lot,” Quinn said. “It helps out a lot. It makes me feel really comfortable. When it’s time for me to run a play, I’m feeling confident with what I do. It’s been a big help having him give me those words of advice.”