ENGLEWOOD - C-minus - That's how Broncos rookies Bradley Roby and Cody Latimer graded themselves after their first NFL training camp practice Thursday at Dove Valley. Maybe it's not a coincidence the two chose the same grade - besides sharing a common college conference, the Big Ten, the top two Broncos draft picks seem to be of the same hard-working mindset. Latimer stayed after practice concluded to catch a few more passes with the wide receivers, and Roby also hung back to huddle with veteran members of the secondary. The coordination between the two rookies started immediately after they were drafted.
"We talk all the time," Latimer said. "Before camp and OTAs, we said we are going to push each other everyday. I'm going to make him better and he's going to make me better."
The status as the top two draft picks in camp comes along with high expectations, and both players are competing in position groups with opportunities to battle for a roster spot. Denver's wide receiver picture is murky with the loss of Eric Decker to free agency, and Latimer could challenge for some of Decker's targets.
Roby saw reps with the first team Thursday and could earn a role in the improved, more physical secondary.
"Me and Cody, we definitely got together and said, 'We are going to do this as rookies,'" Roby said. "The team needs us rookies coming in to make plays."
But the two haven't always been so perfectly synced. During their college careers, Roby's Buckeyes and Latimer's Hoosiers met three times. Unsurprisingly, Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State beat conference doormat Indiana all three times, winning by 28 points last season.
"We killed him," said Roby, who blocked a punt in the game to set up the Buckeye's third touchdown. "It was bad. He knows it, I don't have to say nothing about it."
Although Latimer was never part of a winning season, Indiana improved each of his three seasons, finishing last year at 5-7. Joining the Broncos, a team that has had only five losing seasons in 30 years, is a huge transition.
"It gives me the feel of what a winner actually feels like," Latimer said. "We turned it around at Indiana but here it will be a good feeling to know what a winning program is like."
Latimer got his long overdue Hoosier revenge at the end of Thursday's practice, when he caught a long touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler, beating Roby down the middle.
Although Latimer claims their old college trash-talking days are done, "Now we are on the Broncos and teammates now, we are focused on winning here and that's in the past," he now finds a more subtle way to make a slight dig at his draft-mate.
"Every day is an interview," Latimer said. "You are interviewing for a job, so you have to bring it every day. Somebody is going to look bad, it's either you or the defender."