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Updated: July 31, 2003, 7:58 PM ET

DENVER -- After Herb Haygood made a mistake on a pass route during training camp Thursday, the receiver ended up in a face-to-face meeting with veteran Rod Smith.

It's almost as if the Broncos' Pro Bowler has taken the second-year pro under his wing.

"I talk with Rod all the time," Haygood said. "You're never perfect and Rod, every time you run a route, he's watching. He comes to tell you the little things to do in an attempt to get you better.

"He's told me he sees himself in me when he was younger," Haygood said. "I am a younger him."

There are a lot of similarities. For one thing, Haygood spent almost all his rookie season in 2002 on the practice squad after being a fifth-round draft choice out of Michigan State.

Smith, who has 559 career catches, spent his entire rookie season in 1994 on the practice squad.

"The younger guys like Herb don't remember where I came from," Smith said. "I've been where they are at."

Smith's emphasis with Haygood is simple. Run the same exact route every time. Moments after their talk on Thursday, two precisely run routes are rewarded by receptions and more encouragement from Smith.

Such moments aren't without some frustration. Haygood and other young receivers come to camp knowing that Ed McCaffrey, Ashley Lelie and Smith are still ahead of them on the depth chart.

"You get used to it because you never know when you're time is going to come," Haygood said. "Every play you get, you've got to try and make a play."

It isn't the first time Haygood has had to wait. While at Michigan State, he played behind Plaxico Burress, a current Pittsburgh Steeler, and Gari Scott of Green Bay.

"Those were some trying times too, having to wait after coming there with the ultimate plan of turning the program around," Haygood said. "We did have some good receivers go through there and I was glad to see my man, Charles Rogers, signed with Detroit for $14.4 million. That's quarterback money."

Haygood's abilities and his fate on the depth chart has also caught the attention of quarterback Steve Beuerlein.

"Physically, the younger guys can all do what those guys (McCaffrey and Smith) can do," Beuerlein said. "The line between a great receiver and a great player and an average player is whether you can do it down in and down out and week in and week out. Those young guys just haven't had a chance to be an every down guy."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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