Denver signed ends Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green and nose tackle Jamal Williams. If all three of those players stay healthy, the Broncos should benefit against the run. They are big players who can control the line of scrimmage up front better than last year's group.
"With the beef that we brought in and the 'dog mentality' they play with up front, I think that's going to add a lot to what we do defensively," Dawkins said. "They play with an attitude. When I talk to them, you can hear the excitement in their voice. And I've been privy to see them play on the field, and you can tell they play with that attitude. That if the run gets past them, they get an attitude from that because they feel like they have to make those plays up front."
The age of the new linemen is a bit of concern, because all three are past 30 years old. But Bannan and Green have said this offseason they feel good. Williams is coming off a season-ending injury but said he also feels good and refreshed after missing most of last year.
The Broncos needed help on the line. The linemen last year played well at times but faltered near the end of the season. Oakland rushed for more than 200 yards in a win at Denver, and Kansas City passed 300 rushing yards in a season-ending win.
There is confidence within the organization that the upgrades on the defensive line will make a big difference.
"With the guys we have up front, it should be a stout group this year," Bannan said. "The defense as a whole should be a stout group, we should be able to fly around and make a lot of plays, and do the job we're supposed to do."
--The Broncos envision an expanded role for tight end Marquez Branson He could be more of a fullback/H-back in the offense. He lined up in the backfield often during the team's recent passing camp.
The Broncos need Branson to be versatile because coach Josh McDaniels said the team could change its approach this year and use a fullback more often. The only true fullback on the roster is Spencer Larsen.
"In the running game we're going to use a little bit more two-back sets," McDaniels said. "You saw Larsen and Branson back there taking most of those reps at the fullback spot. We're still going to be spread out and do some of the things that we've done before and we go through an evaluation every spring and come up with some new things. We watch some other teams that have been successful doing other things and we've liked some things and feel like we've got some personnel that can do some of them."
--Guard Matt McChesney was put on the retired/reserve list after a freak accident involving a golf cart. He injured his ankle and decided to give up football.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I didn't have to meet him to know that I had things in common with him. My faith and what he believes in, outspoken about it and not ashamed of it, and that's how I am." -- Broncos safety Brian Dawkins on rookie quarterback Tim Tebow.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Broncos are going to continue to look into possibilities on the free-agent market to improve the roster. Denver has shown a willingness to be aggressive in the post-draft market and will do so this season.
The Broncos still have some post-draft needs that need to be filled. However, coach Josh McDaniels said he is happy with the team's depth and said there is good competition at many spots.
MEDICAL WATCH: WR Demaryius Thomas had foot surgery before the draft. He is improving and shouldn't be far from getting back on the practice field. ... WR Eric Decker suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot last year and hasn't been practicing. He might not be ready to fully participate until training camp. ... G Russ Hochstein is recovering from knee surgery well, and the Broncos expect him to be ready for training camp. ... OT Ryan Clady had knee surgery for a partially torn patellar tendon. The team hopes he is ready for Week 1 of the regular season. ... LB Darrell Reid is recovering from knee surgery. His availability for training camp is still up in the air. ... OT Ryan Harris is rehabilitating from a toe injury. The team is hopeful he'll be ready for training camp.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--P Mitch Berger was a midseason signee who had an up-and-down year. With the late-season addition of Britton Colquitt, don't expect Berger back. --S Vernon Fox added some depth on special teams late in the year. He could return for camp. --OT Brandon Gorin gave the Broncos some experience at tackle but was not the primary backup at the position. Denver could look elsewhere. --CB Ty Law played well after being picked up during the season but did deal with some injuries and is near the end of his career. If he is re-signed, it's a sign the Broncos don't have much faith in 2009 second-round pick Alphonso Smith.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*OLB Elvis Dumervil (tendered at $3.168M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) should be a high priority for the Broncos after leading the NFL in sacks.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--S Josh Barrett: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Nick Greisen: UFA; terms unknown.
--G Russ Hochstein: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--*G Chris Kuper: RFA; (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.521M/1 yr.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA; terms unknown.
--*QB Kyle Orton: RFA; (tendered at $2.621M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.621M/1 yr.
--K Matt Prater: ERFA; terms unknown.
--*TE Tony Scheffler: RFA; (tendered at $1.176M with second-round pick as compensation); $1.176M/1 yr.
--*DE Le Kevin Smith: Not tendered as RFA; terms unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Akin Ayodele: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--DT Justin Bannan: UFA Ravens; $22M/5 yrs, $6.3M SB.
--DE Jarvis Green: UFA Patriots; $20M/4 yrs.
--CB Nate Jones: UFA Dolphins; $4.33M/4 yrs.
--QB Brady Quinn (trade Browns).
--NT Jamal Williams: FA Chargers; $16M/3 yrs, $7M guaranteed.
--G/T Maurice Williams: FA; terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis (released).
--OG Mitch Erickson (released).
--OG Ben Hamilton: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--FB Peyton Hillis (traded Browns).
--DE Vonnie Holliday: UFA Redskins; terms unknown.
--RB LaMont Jordan (released).
--WR Brandon Marshall (traded Dolphins).
--DL J'Vonne Parker (released).
--DE Kenny Peterson (released).
--TE Tony Scheffler (trade Lions).
--QB Chris Simms (released).
--C Casey Wiegmann (released).
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