ENGLEWOOD, Colo—On Wednesday, the Denver Broncos met the media following the conclusion of the team’s third day of offseason workouts. Among the players who answered questions from the press was safety and special team captain David Bruton. Considered among the best special teamers in the league, Bruton wears the captain’s “C” with pride on gameday. He says he’s ready to lead a faster, engaged unit.
“We’re going to be attacking,” he said. “We’re going to be downhill all the time and a lot more enthusiastic on special teams. We’re building that in the meeting rooms. You know, if we make a big play, last year there’s like three or four guys celebrating. We’re getting down to a point where everybody’s echoing like one band, one sound-type deal. We’re all in it together. We know that. He [Special Teams Coach Joe DeCamillis] instilled this philosophy ‘tip of the spear’. Every game we’re the first people out there—kickoff or kickoff return. We set the tone the whole game, so that’s what we want to do for our team. We set the tone and our team reverberates.”
Drafted in 2009 out of Notre Dame, Bruton is one of the few players on the Broncos roster who has spent his entire career in Denver. Now, at age 27, Bruton says his primary job this season will be to use his experience to help set the tone on the field, and guide young special teamers through their early years in the NFL.
“As the old man of the team—one of the old men—it’s very important. It’s a role that you take on as you get older, and especially since I’ve been in that role for so long, special teams have really given the young guys their opportunity to play. It’s their first crack at it. I just try to bring them along, teach them things that I know and what I’ve seen.”
Bruton continued. “I’ve seen it all on special teams from short sets to double-teams to crack-backs to getting smoked out in the back—it doesn’t matter, I’ve seen it all. [I’m] just trying teach those guys how to play smart, play fast but overall and just play free. You’ve got to play free; you can’t let anything hold you back. Be fearless.”
So far this offseason, most of the Broncos work has come in the weight room. Bruton knows how important it is to build his body in April so he’s ready to compete in January. He says the work strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson is doing will be key to the team’s success this season, and he’s thankful for the job Richesson’s done since becoming Denver’s strength coach in 2012. `
“Luke and his staff, they do a great job,” he said. “They ease us in the right way. Our number of injuries as far as muscular tears went down tremendously since he’s been here. We focus on a lot of functional stuff, and a lot of things where we get certain areas of our body to fire that we were not necessarily accustomed to or we don’t usually do when we go train. People might think it’s crazy that we don’t go out there and run full sprints all the time, but we’re just learning the basics. We just got into it—guys took some time off. It’s advantageous for us as players to go take each day one at a time and just go as slow as he wants us to go. When it comes time to fire, we’ll fire. We’re going to be in football shape. That’s the shape we’re going to be in.”
Bruton also expects to compete for time at safety this season, on top of his work with the special teams unit. Last season he recorded 25 combined tackles. Pro Football Focus gave Bruton a +4.5 rating at the safety position, on par with the likes of Philadelphia’s Nate Allen and New York’s Calvin Pryor. Bruton says his goal is to play on defense as often as he can in 2015, the final year of his current contract.
“I feel as though I played extremely well when I had my opportunity last year,” he said. “I feel like I played well throughout training camp last year as well, and I plan to carry that on. I feel confident. It’s tough to feel confident when you don’t have that opportunity throughout your last two or three seasons. The fact that I was finally granted that opportunity and now had a chance to shine, I just feel like I’m going into these OTAs, training camp and the season with a huge amount of confidence. I feel like my chest may be a little bigger—not from Luke making us do pushups all day. I envision myself playing a lot more. I envision myself starting. I’m dreaming big this season, especially [in a] contract year.”
Bruton, like most athletes, is driven by competition. This season will have plenty to go around as defensive coordinator Wade Phillips sorts out each player’s role in his unique 3-4 defense. Bruton says he’s going to work hard, compete for his opportunity, rely on his veteran know-how and hope for the best.
“I’ve seen it all,” he said. “Heck, in my third year we drafted two safeties. I could’ve sworn I was out the door then. And then every year we’ve moved a corner to safety, whether it’s Omar [Bolden] or talks of Kayvon [Webster] or [Bradley] Roby or whomever they’re thinking about moving out there from corner to safety. I’ve seen it all. All I can do is keep my head down and keep plugging away. There’s nothing really that I can do about the coaches’ decisions as far as who’s playing which position. I’m going to just play mine and I’m going to play it the best I can. Hopefully they give me that opportunity when I show that I can play as good, or better than anybody else.”
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