Sapp and Rice: Working hard

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Aug 062003
 
Authors: Luke Cornish

It’s not easy being a rookie in an NFL training camp, just ask Cecil Sapp. The former CSU running back was picked up by the Denver Broncos as a free agent after going undrafted and he is working hard to make a name for himself on a team studded with stars.

“It’s a lot different (than college),” Sapp said. “It’s more intense and I’m learning more every day.”

It might be hard to go from being a big fish in a small pond to just another fish in the sea but Sapp impresses his new teammates and coaches.

“I think Sapp has some great qualities,” Broncos’ running back Clinton Portis said. Portis grew up in Miami just like Sapp and has formed a bond with the rookie from CSU.

“I think he’s an asset to the team,” Portis said. “The Broncos have a tradition of great running backs and he fits in well here.”

Sapp may be adapting well to the team but he still has a long way to go if he wants to be on the team’s roster at the start of the regular season. Sapp joins a team already deep at his position with Portis claiming offensive rookie of the year honors last year with his 1,508 yards on 231 carries and 15 touchdowns.

Also working against the former Ram is the fact that the Broncos already have seven running backs and will be looking to make some room on their roster. There is some good news however, Broncos running back Mike Anderson is still recovering from an injury he suffered late last season and fellow rookie and former Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffen is also injured.

That said, with Sapp’s ability to break tackles and move the ball in the right direction the Broncos may keep him for his goal line effectiveness. One thing is for sure: on the Broncos any chance can turn anyone into a superstar.

Sapp isn’t the only CSU alum making waves on the field. Wide receiver Frank Rice has been impressing just about everyone who watches him. Rice started his NFL career on signing as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. An injury in training camp put him on the injured reserve list until they cut him a year later.

He then signed for the Broncos but spent last year on the practice squad. He is emerging as a legitimate threat at wide receiver and even more so as a punt returner. His great hands and deceptive speed make him a great backup to Deltha O’Neal – the team’s current return specialist.

“(Rice) made some great catches in practice this morning,” wide receiver coach Steve Watson said.

He impressed in special teams in the afternoon by being the only punt returner not to drop a ball, even in the two-ball drill (a drill where a player starts off with a ball in one hand and has to catch a punt one-handed in the other).

“I love to play football,” Rice said. “I hope I will get some more playing time and I’m going to prove myself on Saturday.”

On Saturday, the Broncos travel to Houston to take on the second-year franchise the Houston Texans. The game will start at 6:30 p.m. and will start the preseason for the Broncos.

With the preseason comes a chance for coaches to see how deep their team is, while the two former Rams will get a chance to impress their coaches and fans back home.

OUTBOX

Heading into this weekend’s preseason game against the Texans the Broncos’ head coaching staff released the team’s first depth chart. After two weeks of camp, both Rice and Sapp are moving up the list:

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