Broncos Update Insider - Tuesday, Mar. 22

The Denver Broncos will run a 3-4 defense in 2005, but they insist it won't be their base defensive set. The Broncos have been a 4-3 team and their publicly stated plans that it will be their defense once again.

"We're going to try to go at it as we have in the past and employ (the 3-4 defense) a little more on third down and nickel packages and things like that," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "But not as a base."

But the Broncos are probably better equipped to run a 3-4. Their strength on defense is at linebacker, especially since their main free-agent signing so far has been outside linebacker Ian Gold.

The Broncos have D.J. Williams, Gold and Al Wilson at linebacker and could easily put in former second-round pick Terry Pierce or athletic backup linebacker Patrick Chukwurah in the lineup with them.

Denver's defensive line isn't as well off. Newly acquired Gerard Warren will help, but the Broncos have already lost end Reggie Hayward and are still shopping end Trevor Pryce in a trade.

Warren could play nose tackle or end in a 3-4 defense. The Broncos also like tackle Dorsett Davis, who was injured all of last season, as a nose tackle in the 3-4 when they use it. The Broncos could also draft players to fit the 3-4.

However, the plan still remains to sign and draft players who fit well in a 4-3 defense and could play in a 3-4 on certain downs. "In the 3-4, really we're trying to implement with the 4-3 personnel that we've got," Sundquist said.

NOTES

--One of Denver's key moves in the offseason was re-signing guard Ben Hamilton. Hamilton was an unrestricted free agent and the Broncos targeted him as a priority to re-sign. Hamilton's value is not just at the guard position, where he fits Denver's zone scheme well, but as the eventual replacement at center for Tom Nalen, who will be 34 in May.

"In the short term, Ben has established himself at the left guard position," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "In the long term, when Tom's ready to call it a career Ben can slide over there."

--One of the keys to the acquisition of Ian Gold working well is how outside linebacker D.J. Williams reacts to a chance of position. Williams played on the weak side last season and had a very good season, finishing third for the NFL's defensive rookie of the year award.

Williams' speed is more of an asset when he isn't over the tight end, but Gold is being penciled in as the starting weakside linebacker. The Broncos will use some more 3-4 defense this season and the Broncos feel that in the 4-3 defense, with as much motion as teams use that there's not that big of a difference between the two outside linebacker positions.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos are still trying to build on defense, but they haven't ignored the offensive side of the ball. They re-signed restricted free agent tight end Jeb Putzier, and have pursued offensive guards and backup quarterbacks in free agency.

The Broncos would like to find a guard that could compete for a starting job in 2005.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DE Marco Coleman showed he still has something left in the tank late in his career, and could be a good situational player for the Broncos in 2005.

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