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Old 04-06-2012, 04:12 AM   #1
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Attention for Broncos turns to defense



Friday April 06, 2012 - 12:03 AM The Sports Xchange




In the wake of the Peyton Manning tsunami that engulfed the Broncos, reshaped their offense and began a radical retransformation of their offensive identity, the needs and future of the Broncos' defense went relatively unnoticed.

But after nearly a month of free agency, the Broncos' defense, which improved from dead last in 2010 to 20th in 2011, remains a restorative work in progress with myriad question marks beyond Pro Bowlers Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey.

Those start with defensive tackle, where Marcus Thomas, who started 11 games last year, remains unsigned. Thomas tested the market and has expressed a desire to return, but the open market has been cool to his services -- including the Broncos.

The fact that Thomas is their only remaining defensive lineman from the Mike Shanahan years does not appear to help his cause. Nor does Thomas' skill set; he doesn't appear quick enough to play the three-technique tackle spot in new coordinator Jack Del Rio's defense but isn't massive enough to be the immovable type of one-technique tackle that Del Rio favors.

"Man, I love Denver. If only it was up to me," Thomas tweeted last week. In recent days, Thomas has repeatedly retweeted the opinions of fans who want him to return to his 7,700-plus followers.

Two issues hurt Thomas's cause to return. One is the expected presence of defensive tackles Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren, both of whom were projected as starters but finished the season on injured reserve with ankle and triceps injuries, respectively. Thomas didn't make his first 2011 start until after Vickerson was lost for the season.

The other is the draft class, which is deep in defensive tackles who appear to be good value picks at No. 25, where the Broncos select in the first round. One or more of a list that includes Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Clemson's Brandon Thompson should be available at the 25th slot; all appear to have higher ceilings as interior pass rushers than Thomas or Brodrick Bunkley, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract (including $9 million guaranteed) with the Saints on March 20, in spite of playing less than half the Broncos' 2011 defensive plays.

Denver hasn't picked a defensive tackle in the first round since selecting Trevor Pryce in 1997. That drought appears poised to end this month.

The questions on the next line of defense revolve around weak-side linebacker D.J. Williams and the six-game suspension he faces for violation of the league's performance enhancing drugs policy. In the 48 hours before signing Manning, the Broncos quietly agreed to terms to bring back linebackers Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard on three- and two-year contracts, respectively.

Both had sizable roles last year; Mays was a middle linebacker in the Broncos' base package, while Woodyard was one of two linebackers (along with Williams) in Denver's nickel defense. More important for Woodyard, he started early in the 2011 season while Williams recovered from a dislocated right elbow.

Woodyard ended the season with 87 tackles, the team's second-highest total, but has never had a better chance to be a permanent starter than what he would receive if Williams' suspension is upheld.

"We didn't want to have multiple holes there and we have a potential suspension of D.J., so it was important to get Joe and Wes back," general manager Brian Xanders said.

The issues were less pressing at cornerback, where Del Rio helped attract ex-Saints cornerback Tracy Porter to the Broncos on a one-year, $4 million deal.

"He asked me (what I wanted)," Porter recalled. "I told him, 'I want to win and I want to get back to the Super Bowl. I wanted to just overall be a better player. He told me, 'You can definitely help with that but you have to be willing to put in the time and the work to get to that point.'

"I told him, 'That's no problem.'"

Porter affords the Broncos the luxury of cornerback depth, with three veteran starters (Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman and Porter) and Chris Harris, an undrafted rookie and former college safety who by the end of last season was the nickel back -- and arguably the secondary's most consistent tackler.

Safety isn't a large question mark, even with Brian Dawkins' status still undecided after neck problems ended his season three weeks early.

The Broncos appear prepared for life without the 16-year veteran; they signed ex-Broncos free safety Mike Adams and can move 2011 fourth-round pick Quinton Carter from free safety, where he started 11 games as a rookie, to Dawkins' old strong safety position. Carter played strong safety at Oklahoma and has acknowledged it is a more natural position and better fit.

But Carter is a microcosm of the Broncos' defense beyond the Miller-Dumervil-Bailey trinity: a part with potential, but still a work in progress.



http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/1...rns-to-defense
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Old 04-06-2012, 06:39 AM   #2
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Chris Harris, an undrafted rookie and former college safety who by the end of last season was the nickel back -- and arguably the secondary's most consistent tackler.

I love Harris, but nobody on the team tackles better than Champ. I hate it when I realize halfway through an article that I know more than the writer. It seems to happen alot these days and I'm not that smart.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:24 AM   #3
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I love Harris, but nobody on the team tackles better than Champ. I hate it when I realize halfway through an article that I know more than the writer. It seems to happen alot these days and I'm not that smart.
Ok...the writer said "arguably". That means one could argue that he was the team's most "consistent" tackler.....

Arguably does not mean "etched in stone"....and consistent does not mean "best".
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:01 AM   #4
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The fact that Thomas is their only remaining defensive lineman from the Mike Shanahan years does not appear to help his cause.
...what?
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:11 AM   #5
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:13 AM   #6
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Thomas's problem is that he is an OK player and not a star. His HAM is stale and he needs to sign a contract ASAP or he will be out of football. Those rookies are going to look good in minicamp.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:23 AM   #7
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thomas cant be that much money, why are we pinning our hopes on 2 guys who were injured last year instead of bringing in a steady vet backup?
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:11 AM   #8
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thomas cant be that much money, why are we pinning our hopes on 2 guys who were injured last year instead of bringing in a steady vet backup?
Frankly this is what I don't understand. At the least Thomas would be some experienced, solid depth.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:12 AM   #9
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thomas cant be that much money, why are we pinning our hopes on 2 guys who were injured last year instead of bringing in a steady vet backup?
My hunch is that the Broncos have offers out there to Thomas and Bannan (and maybe Okoye) and they're just waiting for one of them to accept it, just as these players are waiting/hoping that somebody will offer them more. It's a game of chicken at this point.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:13 AM   #10
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...what?
His HAM is stale.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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His HAM is stale.
No, it was just wrong. Elvis is from the Shanahan era as well.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:27 AM   #12
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My hunch is that the Broncos have offers out there to Thomas and Bannan (and maybe Okoye) and they're just waiting for one of them to accept it, just as these players are waiting/hoping that somebody will offer them more. It's a game of chicken at this point.
That's what it seems is happening.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:45 AM   #13
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How many DTs are they going to keep going into the season? Four?

Whether it is misguided or not, you know they are counting on Warren to come back and contribute. You know they like Vickerson because he's the only DT other than Warren to get a muli-year deal from this regime.

That leaves two spots. You have to assume they are going to draft one DT, but maybe there isn't a lot of urgency because they figure they can always just draft two DTs in this deep class.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:48 AM   #14
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How many DTs are they going to keep going into the season? Four?

Whether it is misguided or not, you know they are counting on Warren to come back and contribute. You know they like Vickerson because he's the only DT other than Warren to get a muli-year deal from this regime.

That leaves two spots. You have to assume they are going to draft one DT, but maybe there isn't a lot of urgency because they figure they can always just draft two DTs in this deep class.
I'm almost certain this was the thinking going into last years draft and the broncos drafted 0 DT last year

so there's that
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:55 AM   #15
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wr,rb, and defensive tackles ..... by the dozen please.......lol
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:34 PM   #16
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Thomas's problem is that he is an OK player and not a star. His HAM is stale and he needs to sign a contract ASAP or he will be out of football. Those rookies are going to look good in minicamp.


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Old 04-06-2012, 08:06 PM   #17
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Ok...the writer said "arguably". That means one could argue that he was the team's most "consistent" tackler.....

Arguably does not mean "etched in stone"....and consistent does not mean "best".
I am arguably smarter than Albert Einstein.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:24 PM   #18
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I love Harris, but nobody on the team tackles better than Champ. I hate it when I realize halfway through an article that I know more than the writer. It seems to happen alot these days and I'm not that smart.
Champ gave up the most YAC of any cb last yr. Just had one of those yrs where a couple guys broke free for big gains and no safety made a play to stop it.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:45 PM   #19
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Frankly this is what I don't understand. At the least Thomas would be some experienced, solid depth.
He is a good rotational and depth guy but will not be a star, he reminds me of Gerrard Warren, good enough to play in the NFL but a world beater.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:07 PM   #20
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How many DTs are they going to keep going into the season? Four?

Whether it is misguided or not, you know they are counting on Warren to come back and contribute. You know they like Vickerson because he's the only DT other than Warren to get a muli-year deal from this regime.

That leaves two spots. You have to assume they are going to draft one DT, but maybe there isn't a lot of urgency because they figure they can always just draft two DTs in this deep class.
maybe just one
McBean was tendered and played more snaps than anyone last year
I bet he sticks
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:14 PM   #21
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I don't understand why we only gave Porter a 1 year deal. Being so thin at CB, why not 4 years or so?
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:39 AM   #22
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I don't understand why we only gave Porter a 1 year deal. Being so thin at CB, why not 4 years or so?
I agree, he seems to be versatile enough to play safety or CB. He was a starter on a SB championship team. I guess people question his coverage ability.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:33 AM   #23
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Injury, knee.............you can't commit, make them earn it
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:00 AM   #24
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I don't understand why we only gave Porter a 1 year deal. Being so thin at CB, why not 4 years or so?
That is all he wanted to sign for. The TV contract is due to be renewed next year and it will mean bigger contracts for players. Many one year deals being signed this year.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:21 AM   #25
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No, it was just wrong. Elvis is from the Shanahan era as well.
Ryan McBean was also added to our practice squad in September 2008, so Thomas wouldn't even be the only DT if he was brought back.
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