Nate Irving to get "first crack" at Broncos' spot at middle linebacker
POSTED: 05/21/2013 01:08:21 PM MDT
UPDATED: 05/21/2013 07:47:36 PM MDTBy Mike Klis
The Denver Post
About the only time the Broncos defense played as if it didn't belong on the same field as the opposing defense last season was Week 5 at New England.
Utilizing what Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio referred to as the "NASCAR approach," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady engineered a warp-speed offense that got off 89 plays in a 31-21 loss.
Lucky for the Broncos, no other team used the high-speed attack against them, probably because no other team has Tom Brady. But Del Rio doesn't think he's seen the last of it.
"There will be more of it," Del Rio said following the Broncos' second organized team activities (OTAs) practice Tuesday. "I think Week 4 you can expect to get a little more of it, when Philly comes in.
View slide show of Broncos OTAs on Monday.
That's where our league is going."
While defending the hurry-up, added importance is placed on the middle linebacker. The primary purpose for the hurry-up in non-hurry-up times in the game is to prevent the defense from substituting. So far, the Broncos are showing confidence in Nate Irving. The team is giving him the chance to assume the starting "mike" position even though he has little NFL experience other than special teams through his first two seasons.
"He's getting the first crack at it, yeah," Del Rio said. "Nate's going to get time in there, Stewart Bradley will get time in there and Stevie Johnson will get time, but Nate is getting the first crack. He's a bright guy. He's naturally a strong-handed guy, a thick guy. He can move. He's got a chance to play at a higher level and we're giving him that opportunity to earn that."
Del Rio is also hoping to bring along rookie defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, who last month became the Broncos' first-round draft pick.
"Most rookies have a ways to go but he's a pretty quick learner," Del Rio said. "He's quick off the ball. He's got some natural rush ability. We're teaching him technique in terms of how to sit down on anchor blocks and some of the
Broncos linebacker Nate Irving (John Leyba, Denver Post file)
doubles he'll get on our level that are a little bit stronger, a little more forceful than he saw in college. But he's going to be a good player."
The Broncos defense improved dramatically each of the past two years in large part because strongside linebacker Von Miller performed at a near superstar level.
"He can get better," Del Rio said. "He can be more consistent. He had a tremendous amount of impact plays: tackles for loss, sacks, quarterback hits, even the interception for touchdown. You want to maintain those impactful plays that are positives but we want to find a way to be more consistent and make less errors."
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