Originally created 08/25/06

Lelie is fitting in well



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Ashley Lelie promises to use his fierce pride as a positive influence for the Atlanta Falcons.

After his first practice with Atlanta on Thursday, Lelie acknowledged his role as the No. 3 receiver behind starters Roddy White and Michael Jenkins.

"I think I will fit in well," Lelie said. "We might game plan to put me in certain situations in three-receiver sets. I can't really think about that now. I just have to work to learn the offense."

Acquired from Denver in a three-team trade that sent running back T.J. Duckett to the Washington Redskins, Lelie spent an unpleasant final four months with the Broncos.

He declined to elaborate about his refusal to participate in team activities after Denver traded for Javon Walker during the NFL Draft four months ago. Lelie forfeited a $100,000 workout bonus and was accruing as much as $14,000 in fines for every missed day of camp.

According to the contract he signed after the Broncos drafted 20th overall in 2002, Lelie will earn a $600,000 salary this season.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan confirmed Thursday that in order to be free from the final year of his contract, Lelie agreed to pay the Broncos a hefty sum, believed to be $982,000.

"Right now, I am like the 10th receiver," Lelie said. "They have all those guys that have been here for training camp and have been through it. I have to work for everything I get out here. I cannot take anything for granted right now."

Coach Jim Mora doesn't want Lelie in uniform when the Falcons play their third preseason game in a visit to Tennessee on Saturday night.

"We'll get him some plays next week when we play Jacksonville," Mora said. "I've seen him play a lot, so it was just good to see him in the black helmet with the bird on it. "

Atlanta needed a No. 3 receiver after losing Brian Finneran to a season-ending knee injury on July 30. White and Jenkins face no job security concerns after the trade, though neither is as entrenched as Denver's No. 1 receiver, Rod Smith.

For Lelie, the breaking points in his relationship with the Broncos came after Walker signed a new six-year, $43 million contract and supplanted him as the No. 2 wideout.