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Broncos' plans at inside linebacker could still include a surprise

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  • Broncos' plans at inside linebacker could still include a surprise

    NFL Nation

    Broncos' plans at inside linebacker could still include a surprise
    Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the moment, there is no spot on the Denver Broncos' depth chart where plans have not yet met reality more than at inside linebacker.

    And there is no question the Broncos have plans at the position -- big plans, to be sure -- it's just they haven't actually seen those plans on the practice field.

    They believe the team’s leading tacklers in each of the previous two seasons -- Brandon Marshall (2014) and Danny Trevathan (2013) -- fit what they both want and need at the two inside spots in the 3-4 scheme. But Marshall has not participated in the team’s on-field work since he is recovering from offseason foot surgery, and Trevathan has participated only on a limited basis as he returns from an injury-marred 2014 season.


    Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has not yet participated in the team's on-field work this offseason while he recovers from foot surgery. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
    Trevathan suffered three separate injuries to his left leg last season -- the third a dislocated kneecap -- that eventually landed him on injured reserve. The result is the Broncos have taken a long look at other players in those spots, including Steven Johnson and Todd Davis.

    “Our guys inside right now to me have played really well, and it’s because they kind of got forced into a tough situation with two injuries, with Danny and Marshall not working," Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said. “But those guys have responded, and I think it’s just going to help them. That’s just going to be -- they may be as competitive a spot as we’ll have probably going into camp."

    So, it remains to be seen if one of the other players -- somebody like Davis, Johnson, Lamin Barrow, Corey Nelson or Reggie Walker -- can still crash the depth-chart party in the weeks and months to come. Davis and Johnson are the starting points in that discussion simply because they have had most of the opportunities with the starting lineup so far.

    Davis, claimed off waivers from New Orleans just before the Broncos’ Nov. 9 game in St. Louis last season, started two games down the stretch. And while he had some point-of-attack issues and a bobble or two in coverage in those games, Davis -- an undrafted rookie who played three games with the Saints before the Broncos claimed him -- showed enough potential to the new Broncos staff to get the nod with the starters in the offseason work.

    Johnson, who made the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie in 2012, has consistently been one of the team’s best special-teams players and then got seven starts last season when Trevathan and Marshall suffered their injuries. Johnson, too, has worked plenty with the starting defense through the offseason work.

    “When the younger guys come in, they usually have a lot of mistakes, but they’re starting to get a lot more reps in and the mistakes aren’t there," is how DeMarcus Ware described the group’s work thus far. “The technique stuff, that’s give and take. But the mental reps and the mental things that you see out of the younger guys, you don’t see that; they’re maturing really fast."

    And when asked specifically about Davis’ progress, Ware said, “I think ... it goes back all the way to the season, the end of the season with him playing a little bit and him taking on that role now. You’re used to seeing him in the huddle now, calling the plays, calling the defense and being confident. He’s gotten that confidence and that swagger that he needs to be that role player for us."

    For his part, Johnson has been on the cusp of significant playing time on multiple occasions because of his physicality and his approach. Former Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would often joke that he never had to look to find Johnson in the bench area during games “because if I turned around Stevie was right there, just saying he was ready to go in if we needed him to."

    But Johnson’s or Davis’ or any other player's ability to get into the lineup may still ultimately rest on the health of Trevathan and Marshall.

    Because he went to injured reserve Dec. 16 and had surgery in early January, Trevathan has progressed more quickly back into at least some on-field work than Marshall. Trevathan has consistently said he will be ready for training camp, and his work in recent weeks would seem to indicate that timetable is still in place.

    Marshall, too, has consistently said he will be ready as the Broncos move through the preseason and into the regular season, but he had his surgery deeper into the offseason and to this point has only worked with the team’s strength and conditioning staff during OTA and minicamp practices.

    “We can compete each and every day," Johnson said. “I always look back to when ... people were saying Nate (Irving) and Steven Johnson, but then Stewart Bradley ended up being the starter. So all that stuff is previous notion, things from what people did last year and what people did in the past. In the past I’ve been a really good special-teams player, but I’m trying to make that leap and become a starter and a true leader on this team."



    This is great news. Never too much depth. Not sure if their contracts will be due soon, but we gotta keep "our" guys.
    Dr. Giggles

  • #2
    The Broncos have reached an agreement in principle with backup linebacker Steven Johnson on a one-year deal, according to two NFL sources.

    The agreement is worth $785,000, with a chance for him to make another $150,000 in playing time incentives.

    He will receive a $100,000 signing bonus plus a $660,000 base salary, and if he makes the 53-man roster after the preseason, he'll earn another $25,000 roster bonus.

    Johnson is entering his fifth season. The Broncos worked out the deal in lieu of tendering him a $1.542 million salary as a restricted free agent.

    This means he will command at least 1.5 next year on the market.

    Davis's contract runs through the following year at about 600,000. He will also command the same as Johnson when he hits the market.
    Last edited by drgiggles; 06-15-2015, 05:21 AM.
    Dr. Giggles

    Comment


    • #3
      To be honest I have seen tremendous progress from Davis in only a few short games here in Denver. Johnson, for me, is a step slow and I think one can find many look-a likes at any stage. I am open to seeing Johnson take that next step and leap into becoming a great player but I just have not seen it yet....at that point I'd begin to question why...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rich_C View Post
        To be honest I have seen tremendous progress from Davis in only a few short games here in Denver. Johnson, for me, is a step slow and I think one can find many look-a likes at any stage. I am open to seeing Johnson take that next step and leap into becoming a great player but I just have not seen it yet....at that point I'd begin to question why...
        I agree on both statements. Johnson has had a few years, not sure if it just something little missing or it's he buried on the charts....
        Dr. Giggles

        Comment


        • #5
          I think ILB will be our most surprising position considering all the doom and gloom about how much trouble we were in at ILB in the offseason.

          Not sure if I would consider it a strength...just not as weak as people thought.
          Time to build on the win and grow the team from some solid play higher level of play

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Rich_C View Post
            To be honest I have seen tremendous progress from Davis in only a few short games here in Denver. Johnson, for me, is a step slow and I think one can find many look-a likes at any stage. I am open to seeing Johnson take that next step and leap into becoming a great player but I just have not seen it yet....at that point I'd begin to question why...
            He's lost some weight and was working with chris Harris this offseason against receivers in coverage.

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