Denver quietly rebuilds

Without any major, big-money signings, the Denver Broncos quietly started to rebuild their defense through free agency.

Without any major, big-money signings, the Denver Broncos quietly started to rebuild their defense through free agency.

First, the team signed linebackers Niko Koutouvides and Boss Bailey. Then, on the same day signed two veteran safeties, Marquand Manuel and Marlon McCree.

Although those moves were not splashy, the Broncos had to add to a defense that ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed and 28th in points allowed last year.

"I think, to be flat out honest, some better personnel would help us be more consistent, and some more experience would help us be more consistent," cornerback Domonique Foxworth said last December.

The changes in personnel come for a new coordinator. Bob Slowik will run the defense in 2008 after Jim Bates had a tough one year in Denver. Bates was offered a reassignment on the staff, but decided to step down instead.

At linebacker, Bailey will probably start on the strong side. The team could move D.J. Williams to the weak side and use Koutouvides in the middle, although Koutouvides has been mostly a special-teams player in his career. If Koutouvides doesn't work out in the middle, Williams could stay there and Jamie Winborn could play the weak side. Winborn finished last season well.

McCree and Manuel will compete to start at safety with inexperienced Hamza Abdullah and John Lynch, who could be entering his final season. Denver hasn't had much depth at safety the past few years.

The Broncos still have to address their defensive line. Although it doesn't seem there will be an impact defensive tackle available at the 12th overall pick, Denver could use a second-round pick on the line. Denver has a few needs on offense as well.



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