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 Moss set to rejoin team?

Thomas says teammate has a renewed attitude By Lindsay H. Jones
The Denver Post
Posted: 08/03/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT Updated: 08/03/2009 01:28:45 AM MDT
Tim Crowder, right, works against tight end Richard Quinn on Sunday. Crowder, drafted in 2007 from Texas in the second round as a defensive end, is making the transition to outside linebacker in the Broncos' 3-4 defense. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post) Related Articles

 

Jarvis Moss' quarter-life crisis appears on the verge of being over.

On Sunday, a Broncos teammate said Moss, a defensive end-turned-linebacker, will return to the team this morning, two days after the former first-round draft pick left the team, miserable and needing time to decide whether he wanted to continue playing football.

Today is Moss' 25th birthday.

"He's looking up now, so he's going to be back," said defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, Moss' closest friend on the team.

Moss appears to have suffered a crisis in confidence after two difficult years as a defensive end in former coach Mike Shanahan's 4-3 defense and after being relegated to the third team at outside linebacker under new coach Josh McDaniels.

Moss

Broncos

reported to camp on time Thursday, passed his physical and conditioning test and participated in both practices Friday with a number of friends and family members watching from the VIP tent. While Moss several times received praise from coaches during individual drills, he was playing behind Elvis Dumervil, Darrell Reid, Tim Crowder and Mario Haggan. Rookie first-round pick Robert Ayers is expected to bump Moss further down the depth chart whenever he signs his contract and begins camp.

"Basically, he just felt like . . . everybody's saying he's a bust and all that," said Thomas, a teammate of Moss' at the University of Florida. "He just wanted to prove to everybody that he's good."

Moss, who could not be reached for comment, told the coaching staff he needed time away, and he was given a "couple of days to mull things over," said Debbie Henry, a maternal figure from Moss' adolescence who spoke with Moss on Saturday.

"Jarvis is a real bright guy. He will be very thoughtful and he won't do anything rash," Henry said.

If Moss, who signed a five-year, $14.95 million contract with an $8.06 million guarantee in 2007, were to retire, the Broncos could challenge his contract and force him to refund up to $3.6 million.

 

That Moss was even considering an early retirement was startling news for those close to him, including Urban Meyer, Moss' coach at Florida.

"It sure would surprise me," Meyer said Sunday morning. "I have a lot of respect for Jarvis. He really did a great job for us at Florida."

This certainly wasn't the way anyone envisioned Moss' career playing out, but few things have gone according to plan over the past two years for Moss - or Crowder, the Broncos' second-round pick in 2007.

They were drafted in the hopes they could develop into a dominant pass-rushing tandem in Shanahan's 4-3 defense. But in two seasons, they have each started just one game and have combined for just 7 1/2 sacks. Moss missed eight games with a broken leg in 2007 and was inactive for five other games in two years.

Crowder was inactive for 10 games in 2008, including an eight-game stretch from games 8-15.

Both players, though, were deemed too small to play end in McDaniels' 3-4 scheme, and they were moved to outside linebacker.

Throughout the spring, there was plenty of optimism that a new position could mean a fresh start for both players, who were beginning to be labeled as busts.

Crowder has shed about 12 pounds (down to 255 pounds) and said he is running better. He has worked consistently with the second team through the first three days of training camp.

He said he's still adjusting to lining up in a two-point stance and dropping back into coverage instead

Moss, left, reported to camp on time Thursday. (Denver Post file photo)of always rushing forward.

"I feel like a rookie again. I'm learning everything again," Crowder said. "The only thing I'm used to is the speed of the game. Other than that, I'm a rookie, but it's all fun right now."

Though Moss seemed happy when he spoke to a group of reporters Friday morning, privately he was struggling. He reached out only to a small group of teammates, including Thomas and defensive end Kenny Peterson.

"He knows we're there for him no matter what. It's a tough time for him right now," Peterson said. "Jarvis has got to realize that it's going to be tough, but he can keep fighting through it. There's always an end to the madness."

Meanwhile, the Broncos are awaiting his return. McDaniels has declined to comment on what he called a "very personal" situation for Moss.

"When he gets here, when he's back, hopefully we'll move forward," McDaniels said.

Lindsay H. Jones: 303-954-1262 or ljones@denverpost.com

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