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Old 03-20-2010, 02:55 AM   #1
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Default Opportunity to start lured Bannan to Broncos

Opportunity to start lured Bannan to Broncos


By Lindsay H. Jones
The Denver Post
Posted: 03/20/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT




Several times during Justin Bannan's first eight years in the NFL, he thought of coming back to Colorado.

Bannan, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive lineman, looked into buying property in the Denver area and making this his offseason home, a respite from Buffalo and Baltimore, where he spent four years each. But with his football life located across the country, Bannan would always just rent.

Now, finally, Bannan is going to get himself a house here.

But the prospect of returning to Colorado, where he played for the University of Colorado from 1997-2001, wasn't the biggest selling point.

Here with the Broncos, Bannan will get to start.

He was the first of three defensive linemen signed by the Broncos in the first week of free agency. Bannan is expected to start at one of the defensive end spots, opposite Jarvis Green (from New England), with Jamal Williams (from San Diego) at the nose tackle spot.

Bannan has made 27 career starts including 15 for Baltimore in 2008 but only two last season.

"I loved Baltimore, but we were so deep in D-line there that it was tough," Bannan said. "We had a rotation, but you definitely want to be that full-time starter, and it was tough over there to do that."

Bannan was already in the Denver area and had been for a month when free agency started March 5. Logistically, the Broncos made for an easy first visit, with a familiar locale and friendly faces, including tight end Daniel Graham, who was Bannan's teammate at CU those five seasons.

Yet it was the Broncos' 3-4 system and a pitch from new defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale that sold Bannan. He had drawn interest from other teams, but he never left Dove Valley.

"Business-wise, it has to be right, the style of defense, what Wink is trying to bring to the table, how he operates; it is right up my alley, so it was a bonus to be able to come back out here," Bannan said. "I think I'm in the right system, with the right people, and that's the important part."

When Bannan signed his five-year, $22 million contract, he thought he would be the new starting nose tackle. Then, less than a week later, the Broncos signed Williams, a 348-pound behemoth who played nothing but nose tackle for the Chargers for more than a decade.

"That's fine, it doesn't really matter. They brought me in and said it could be nose, it could be end," Bannan said. "I've played both. Doesn't matter to me. I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Graham and Bannan along with many members of their CU class have remained in close contact since they left Boulder in the spring of 2002 after a tumultuous five years. They were recruited by Rick Neuheisel, redshirted together in 1997, then were left behind when Neuheisel bolted for Washington. By their final season in Boulder, Bannan and Graham were leaders on the Buffaloes team that finally climbed back to the national stage by beating Nebraska and winning the Big 12 title.

"Don't remember me from college," Bannan said, laughing. "I grew up a little. I'm not a way different guy, I just grew up a little. I made some changes, I'm getting married soon, that kind of stuff. Looking to buy a house."

But Graham said Broncos fans can expect the same type of tough player Buffaloes fans remember from Bannan's days in Boulder.

"I think he can do a lot, just knowing what he's done in the past. I know he's going to be a good leader on this team, on this defense," Graham said. "Hopefully a lot of the younger guys can look up to him and see why he's been in this league so long. I'm glad he's here."





http://www.denverpost.com/premium/broncos/ci_14713245
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Old 03-20-2010, 02:56 AM   #2
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Nice .... huge signing.
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Old 03-20-2010, 04:29 AM   #3
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"That's fine, it doesn't really matter. They brought me in and said it could be nose, it could be end," Bannan said. "I've played both. Doesn't matter to me. I'll do whatever they want me to do."
I'd expect him to play both. DE when Jamal Williams is in, and he, Fields, and Green will take turns replacing Williams at NT, primarily on passing downs.

I'd be really interested to see what they do with Bannan when it comes to nickel packages. If you think about it from a size/skill set stand point we could legitimately line up just Bannan and Green as hand in the dirt linemen, but shift Doom and Ayers up to the line if we're reading run and treat it like a 4 man front. Bannan playing the NT, Green the UT, and the OLBs would be the ends. That or you could shift it to a three man front with just Ayers stepping up, Bannan staying in the middle book-ended by Green and Ayers.

Lot of possibilities with all the versatile talent we've been acquiring. Wink is going to have a lot of tools to work with.
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Old 03-20-2010, 04:49 AM   #4
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Drek, you like Haggan moving inside for Andra Davis and Ayers going to SOLB?
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:39 AM   #5
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Frankly, I can't wait to see this new Dline take the field. I still hold out hope that Dan Williams will be the pick at 11. I don't feel confident that Jamal can hold up game after game all season. I would like to see somebody like Williams being groomed for the future.
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:28 AM   #6
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Drek, you like Haggan moving inside for Andra Davis and Ayers going to SOLB?
Casey I think that makes the most sense right now. Larsen could make a push because his skillset would seem to fit the SILB spot but at this point I'd guess an Ayers/Haggan/Williams/Dumervil LB corps. Now if McClain is selected at 11, I think he'd immediately step in with Haggan and Ayers competing on the outside (and I'd expect Ayers to win that).
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:45 AM   #7
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Casey I think that makes the most sense right now. Larsen could make a push because his skillset would seem to fit the SILB spot but at this point I'd guess an Ayers/Haggan/Williams/Dumervil LB corps. Now if McClain is selected at 11, I think he'd immediately step in with Haggan and Ayers competing on the outside (and I'd expect Ayers to win that).
MCain won't get past Jacksonville. Damn coin flip. I'd rather take C.J. Spiller myself.
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:45 AM   #8
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Drek, you like Haggan moving inside for Andra Davis and Ayers going to SOLB?
With how McDaniels runs his camps, yes.

Haggan will be the front runner in camp because he's the veteran. Moving him back to ILB from SOLB should be more comfortable for him, since '08 was the only year of his career that he played outside to my knowledge.

The real key is that McDaniels runs his camps by the "every spot is up for grabs" mindset. I think if you throw Spencer Larsen and Mario Haggan in a scrum for the starting job you'll come away with a quality starter. Add a sliding Brandon Spikes or some other mid round ILB prospect to the mix and we're looking pretty good. Hell, Woodyard would even have an outside shot if he's continued to add weight, but I think he's more realistically DJ's backup and eventual replacement.

In the end its a better option than betting on Andra Davis for a second season, when he didn't even finish the first one well. Maybe Davis will have another 8 real good games with Buffalo in 2010, maybe he'll even play well all season, but the risk of him collapsing is too great. Better to dump a guy a year early and let someone of similar or better talent take his job than keep him a year too late and get saddled with poor performance when you can least afford it.

As for Ayers, he was primarily an interior DL player in college yet was in the regular rotation at SOLB from the beginning of last season. He recently made the comment that going from combine prep, working on 40 times and bench reps, to real football conditioning will be a big help. For him I don't think you can understate that. He likely sacrificed some lateral agility/mobility trying to get the ideal weight/straight line speed ratio for the combine. He didn't know if he'd get drafted to play 4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB, or potentially even 4-3 UT or 3-4 DE. Now he knows his role in the NFL and has an NFL level conditioning program helping him to tailor his physical condition to that end.

I don't think he's going to step in and shock the world at SOLB, he's a several year project, but I see him going from solid role player to solid starter next year, with 2011 or 2012 as the year he really breaks out.

Last edited by Drek; 03-20-2010 at 08:51 AM..
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:53 AM   #9
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If Haggan ends up starting in the middle the Broncos will be in trouble. That guy gets cut and caught up in traffic to often because he's just too tall. He's a backup and they need a upgrade.
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Drek View Post
With how McDaniels runs his camps, yes.

Haggan will be the front runner in camp because he's the veteran. Moving him back to ILB from SOLB should be more comfortable for him, since '08 was the only year of his career that he played outside to my knowledge.

The real key is that McDaniels runs his camps by the "every spot is up for grabs" mindset. I think if you throw Spencer Larsen and Mario Haggan in a scrum for the starting job you'll come away with a quality starter. Add a sliding Brandon Spikes or some other mid round ILB prospect to the mix and we're looking pretty good. Hell, Woodyard would even have an outside shot if he's continued to add weight, but I think he's more realistically DJ's backup and eventual replacement.

In the end its a better option than betting on Andra Davis for a second season, when he didn't even finish the first one well. Maybe Davis will have another 8 real good games with Buffalo in 2010, maybe he'll even play well all season, but the risk of him collapsing is too great. Better to dump a guy a year early and let someone of similar or better talent take his job than keep him a year too late and get saddled with poor performance when you can least afford it.
I cracks me up how some of the-know-it-alls here and many media types slam McD for cutting Davis, like they could know how he graded out for the season. Once you know someone is not in your future plans there is no reason to keep him hanging around. Out of respect you let him go find a new job. McD did that with a few players this off season and that is not lost on free agents who might consider coming here in the future. They will know by Josh's example they would becoming to a class organization that will consider their futures even when they no longer are in the Broncos plans. Do the right thing- it pays off.
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:25 AM   #11
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I cracks me up how some of the-know-it-alls here and many media types slam McD for cutting Davis, like they could know how he graded out for the season. Once you know someone is not in your future plans there is no reason to keep him hanging around. Out of respect you let him go find a new job. McD did that with a few players this off season and that is not lost on free agents who might consider coming here in the future. They will know by Josh's example they would becoming to a class organization that will consider their futures even when they no longer are in the Broncos plans. Do the right thing- it pays off.
People used to applaud Shanahan for that every off-season and circle jerk on how everyone knows Shanahan runs a classy organization. McDaniels does the same things and its wailing and gnashing of teeth time.
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:19 PM   #12
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I don't think he's going to step in and shock the world at SOLB, he's a several year project, but I see him going from solid role player to solid starter next year, with 2011 or 2012 as the year he really breaks out.
Mayock said after the draft last year, that in three years (read: NOT YET) we will have two of the three best players from the 2009 first round in Moreno and Ayers.
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:24 PM   #13
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He will play end on run downs, probably tackle on passing down and williams will head to bench.

Really there are almost no dlines who don't use a heavy rotation nowdays. Really I couldn't even guess who doesn't. Seems like every defense is all about keeping fresh guys out there and having specialists that come in and out depending on down and distance. Not like it used to be with 11 guys just going 4 it all day.
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:26 PM   #14
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For Ayers and OLB he has a ways to go. Playing linebacker all about reaction. It's fine to be athletic but if you react a tenth of a second late, and start a half a yrd or so out of position, it doesn't matter how long and fast you are, you won't make any plays.

It could take Ayers a while to make that switch. Also he may never play well, it's just tough to make it in the NFL. Look at how many high picks end up on scrap heap or being traded for FBS only 2 yrs after the fact.
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