Brown, Delmas, Moreno and Crabtree: Second-year players recall rookie seasons

Four second-year players — Colts running back Donald Brown, Lions safety Louis Delmas, Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno and 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree — talk with Sporting News‘ Dennis Dillon about their initial impressions of the NFL in a roundtable discussion.

Michael Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season with the 49ers.
Michael Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season with the 49ers.

What advice would you give a rookie coming into the NFL?

Delmas: "Give 110 percent, no matter if you mess up on a play. When that ball is snapped, run as fast as you can to the ball. And if you catch the ball, run with it as fast as you can."

Moreno: "Learn from and listen to the veterans because they’re going to help you out. They’ve been through the situation you’re going through. Keep your ears open for the things you can get better at."

Crabtree: "Just work hard, stay in that playbook and don’t take any days off. Every day is a work day for you. And every day you can learn something."

What’s the biggest difference about playing your position in the NFL compared to college?

Brown: "Obviously, everybody is bigger, faster and stronger. The defensive linemen are a lot faster in the NFL than they were in college. There are some guys who are 300 pounds, but the way they can move on their feet and get to the ball — some of those guys are pretty impressive."

Moreno: "Basically, how fast it is and how holes open up so quick and you have to hit the hole on instinct."

Crabtree: "In the NFL, it’s discipline. All your routes have to be disciplined. Your depth on a route is probably the biggest difference. You’re running deeper routes, and you’ve got to run faster."

Which one teammate do you look up to most?

Brown: "We have a bunch of All-Pros on our team, not only on the field but off the field. Obviously, Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne, guys like that who are true Pro Bowl-caliber players but off the field they’re doing just as well — helping out in the community and being true role models."

Delmas: Kyle Vanden Bosch. "We just got him (as a free agent this offseason), but the first day he got here he stepped in as a leader and he’s continued to be one of the best leaders we have right now."

Moreno: "We have a lot of veterans I think people look up to, such as Correll Buckhalter and Brian Dawkins, just because of the way they carry themselves on and off the field. I think everyone looks up to them. They’re looking out for your best interests."

Did you hit the "rookie wall" last year?

Brown: (laughs) "I probably hit it twice. At that point, you take a step back, collect your thoughts and talk to a veteran. The veterans have been through it, too. They can help you through it. The important thing is taking care of your body. When you have a chance to rest, get off your feet and relax; don’t go do other things."

Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is one of the players Knowshon Moreno looks up to.
Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is one of the players Knowshon Moreno looks up to.

Delmas: "To me, there’s no such thing as a rookie wall. No matter if you hit it or not, you still have to go out there and play. I might have been tired, but I had good dudes around me who kept me motivated. I think I did a good job as a rookie as far as not breaking down."

Moreno: "There’s no way of avoiding it. It’s just basically keeping your body intact as well as you can, eating the right things and basically playing through it."

What was the strangest or funniest thing an opposing player said to you last year?

Delmas: "I was chit-chatting with (Bengals receiver) Laveranues Coles and he told me, ‘Man, you ain’t got enough years in the league. Get your bank up.’ Meaning get my money before I could even talk to him."

Moreno: "I can’t really hear out there. So much stuff is going on that it goes in one ear and out the other."

Crabtree: (laughs) "(Packers cornerback) Al Harris stared me down the whole game. I guess he was trying to intimidate me. That was kind of funny to me. I was in the huddle, he was staring at me. Coming out, he was staring at me. He was trying to play the whole tough-guy role, but it really didn’t work. I caught my first touchdown on him."

Is there an NFL player at your position you studied or tried to emulate?

Brown: "I watch pretty much every back. You always want to be your own player, but it doesn’t hurt to take little bits and pieces and learn from other running backs and try to make your game that much more complete."

Delmas: "Troy Polamalu. When you look at him, he doesn’t look like a safety when he moves … but because he’s so smart and watches so much film, he puts himself in great position to make plays. And that’s one thing I want to do this year."

Crabtree: "I try to steal something from everybody. Every receiver in the NFL, I try to steal something and put it in my own way."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

Four second-year players — Colts running back Donald Brown, Lions safety Louis Delmas, Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno and 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree — talk with Sporting News‘ Dennis Dillon about their initial impressions of the NFL in a roundtable discussion.

Michael Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season with the 49ers.
Michael Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season with the 49ers.

What advice would you give a rookie coming into the NFL?

Delmas: "Give 110 percent, no matter if you mess up on a play. When that ball is snapped, run as fast as you can to the ball. And if you catch the ball, run with it as fast as you can."

Moreno: "Learn from and listen to the veterans because they’re going to help you out. They’ve been through the situation you’re going through. Keep your ears open for the things you can get better at."

Crabtree: "Just work hard, stay in that playbook and don’t take any days off. Every day is a work day for you. And every day you can learn something."

What’s the biggest difference about playing your position in the NFL compared to college?

Brown: "Obviously, everybody is bigger, faster and stronger. The defensive linemen are a lot faster in the NFL than they were in college. There are some guys who are 300 pounds, but the way they can move on their feet and get to the ball — some of those guys are pretty impressive."

Moreno: "Basically, how fast it is and how holes open up so quick and you have to hit the hole on instinct."

Crabtree: "In the NFL, it’s discipline. All your routes have to be disciplined. Your depth on a route is probably the biggest difference. You’re running deeper routes, and you’ve got to run faster."

Which one teammate do you look up to most?

Brown: "We have a bunch of All-Pros on our team, not only on the field but off the field. Obviously, Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne, guys like that who are true Pro Bowl-caliber players but off the field they’re doing just as well — helping out in the community and being true role models."

Delmas: Kyle Vanden Bosch. "We just got him (as a free agent this offseason), but the first day he got here he stepped in as a leader and he’s continued to be one of the best leaders we have right now."

Moreno: "We have a lot of veterans I think people look up to, such as Correll Buckhalter and Brian Dawkins, just because of the way they carry themselves on and off the field. I think everyone looks up to them. They’re looking out for your best interests."

Did you hit the "rookie wall" last year?

Brown: (laughs) "I probably hit it twice. At that point, you take a step back, collect your thoughts and talk to a veteran. The veterans have been through it, too. They can help you through it. The important thing is taking care of your body. When you have a chance to rest, get off your feet and relax; don’t go do other things."

Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is one of the players Knowshon Moreno looks up to.
Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is one of the players Knowshon Moreno looks up to.

Delmas: "To me, there’s no such thing as a rookie wall. No matter if you hit it or not, you still have to go out there and play. I might have been tired, but I had good dudes around me who kept me motivated. I think I did a good job as a rookie as far as not breaking down."

Moreno: "There’s no way of avoiding it. It’s just basically keeping your body intact as well as you can, eating the right things and basically playing through it."

What was the strangest or funniest thing an opposing player said to you last year?

Delmas: "I was chit-chatting with (Bengals receiver) Laveranues Coles and he told me, ‘Man, you ain’t got enough years in the league. Get your bank up.’ Meaning get my money before I could even talk to him."

Moreno: "I can’t really hear out there. So much stuff is going on that it goes in one ear and out the other."

Crabtree: (laughs) "(Packers cornerback) Al Harris stared me down the whole game. I guess he was trying to intimidate me. That was kind of funny to me. I was in the huddle, he was staring at me. Coming out, he was staring at me. He was trying to play the whole tough-guy role, but it really didn’t work. I caught my first touchdown on him."

Is there an NFL player at your position you studied or tried to emulate?

Brown: "I watch pretty much every back. You always want to be your own player, but it doesn’t hurt to take little bits and pieces and learn from other running backs and try to make your game that much more complete."

Delmas: "Troy Polamalu. When you look at him, he doesn’t look like a safety when he moves … but because he’s so smart and watches so much film, he puts himself in great position to make plays. And that’s one thing I want to do this year."

Crabtree: "I try to steal something from everybody. Every receiver in the NFL, I try to steal something and put it in my own way."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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