John Elway Jersey

Joe Flacco has already made clear his preference for the upcoming NFL Draft.

ohio state quarterback dwayne haskins throws vs. michigan

When the Broncos hit the clock with the 10th-overall pick, his vote would be for John Elway and Co. to select a “guy that can add value to the team with me as the understood quarterback.”

Flacco didn’t specify whether he prefers an offensive or defensive player with that selection, so long as he’s the man under center.

“I want to get this team to be the best it is with me at quarterback position,” Flacco said on April 16. “Obviously, that is not of most importance to draft a quarterback.”

Elway didn’t share Tuesday at his pre-draft press conference how he will spend the 10th-overall pick, but he doesn’t have an issue with the team’s starter making his opinion known.

“I like that,” Elway said. “I understand that. That’s what you want in your guy that’s your starting quarterback right now. You want him to have that mentality. I thought the comments were fine.”

Elway himself dealt with draft-day concerns when the team used its first-round pick on UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox in 1992.

“I was standing at the baggage claim at [Stapleton International Airport], and we needed a wideout,” Elway remembered Tuesday. “I said, ‘Oh, [University of Tennessee wide receiver Carl] Pickens must’ve been gone.’ He didn’t go until the second round.”

Pickens earned offensive rookie of the year honors that season while Maddox started four games as Elway battled a shoulder injury.

Elway, though, ended up on the right side of the situation that he said angered him at the time.

“How’d that work out?” Elway rhetorically asked Tuesday.

Two Lombardi Trophies to end Elway’s career is evidence enough of that — and Flacco would presumably be thrilled to end his career in the same fashion.

“Joe’s 34 years old,” Elway said. “I think he’s had success in this league. So we made that [trade for Flacco] because we thought that he had a chance to come in here and fit in what we’re going to do offensively and continue his career. At 34 years old, that’s young at that position. Joe’s done it. He’s proven he’s done it. He’s won a Super Bowl. He knows what it takes. He’s been at that level.”

During the Broncos’ three-day minicamp last week, Flacco showed encouraging signs that he could replicate his previous success.

“Minicamp went well,” Elway said. “I thought he did a nice job in minicamp. He showed what he could do out there, what we thought he could do as far as the way he throws the ball. He can make all the throws, still has the strong arm. Joe was very good in [mini]camp.”

But neither Elway’s own experience battling a young quarterback nor Flacco’s showing in minicamp led Elway to rule out drafting a quarterback with the 10th-overall pick or in a later round. Of course, there weren’t any hints that he would draft a quarterback, either.

There was little to glean from Elway’s pre-draft media session, which he called “the most irrelevant press conference of the year.”

Asked for his thoughts on quarterback prospects Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock, Elway chose to reply with a quip.

“They’re on the board,” Elway said.

Well, will the Broncos pick a quarterback at all?

“I don’t know yet.”

The answer likely depends upon how the draft unfolds and how Elway and the Broncos have stacked their draft board. The 2020 quarterback class may also play a role in their decision; Elway said Tuesday that the team is “aware of what’s out there.”

The only real clarity Elway offered is more procedural than it is news. The Broncos, he said, will bring in a fourth quarterback for training camp, which is the norm for most teams as they prepare for the season with a 90-man roster.

That player, though, could be a veteran, a younger free-agent or a draft pick.

“We’re going to look at it and see what’s available once we get through the draft and see how the draft goes,” Elway said.

But how the draft will go? Elway certainly isn’t saying.

Brandon McManus Jersey

Brandon McManus doesn’t want to see Emmanuel Sanders or Phillip Lindsay excessively celebrating after a touchdown this year.

That’s because, as part of the new rules passed by the NFL on Tuesday, a tweak could penalize the offensive team for an unsportsmanlike call following a score.

The fifth new rule from the Competition Committee — which John Elway serves on — says, “Allows teams to elect to enforce on the succeeding try or on the succeeding free kick an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.”

What this means is, if Sanders, say, scores a touchdown and goes wild, getting called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, the extra point could feasibly be moved back 15 extra yards. McManus isn’t looking forward to that:


Phillip Lindsay reacted by laughing:


Lindsay is an electric player, but he’s yet to be called for any unsportsmanlike or personal fouls after scoring in his one-year career (he was tossed for throwing a punch). However, Sanders is the true old-school showman of a player who delights the crowd with bows, the wind-up and pitch of the football and even summersault front-flips into the end zone.

This new rule makes a lot of sense because, before, a personal foul or unsportsmanlike penalty meant moving the kickoff back 15 yards, which rarely affected the game. But, moving back the extra point — or two-point conversion — 15 extra yards, making it a 48-yard extra point try or a 17-yard two-point conversion certainly makes things more difficult for the team who just scored.

The new after touchdown rule is important, but maybe the most important of all the changes is the ability for teams to review offensive and defensive pass interference calls, including non-calls.

This was a response to the debacle in the Saints – Rams NFC Championship Game which sent the Rams to the Super Bowl and likely should have meant the Saints attending the NFL’s biggest game instead.

One other major rule change circles around blocks and whether or not players are looking. Blindside blocks — usually occurring on punts, and sometimes on pass interference calls — are no longer allowed.

Todd Davis Jersey

Hope springs eternal for Todd Davis.

On his third Broncos head coach since 2014, the starting off-ball linebacker is joining his teammates in embracing the culture change under first-time boss Vic Fangio.

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“I think it’s exciting,” he recently told Mike Klis of 9News. “Especially with the new head coach and new coaching staff and new defense to learn, I’m excited to get in there and learn it as quickly as possible.”
Davis is a relic of sorts — a remaining survivor from the Broncos’ 2015 championship squad. He has watched so much star talent depart, it would only be natural to express pessimism about his short-term security or the collective process. Doubly so when his partner-in-crime, Brandon Marshall, was pink-slipped this offseason.

But the 29-year-old former undrafted free agent, who led the team with 114 tackles last season, is familiar with the peaks and valleys of this business. He’s not kidding himself.

“I think it will be a little different,” Davis said. “Every year it changes but the guys we just lost were players I had played with a long time. So it’ll be different, but you have to build some new bonds and take in some new family members.”

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The Broncos’ family has indeed grown by four, with Joe Flacco, Kareem Jackson, Ja’Wuan James and Bryce Callahan moving in. There remains much to prove from the wayward franchise, and especially from Davis, a limited, two-down inside ‘backer.

But you can’t — you won’t — curtail the ambition.

“I think this season is going to be good,” he said. “Our new quarterback, I think Joe will come in and do a great job for us. A great leader, a veteran presence. I think we picked up some good cornerbacks, some people who know how to play. And then we picked up a big right tackle, so I think we made the right moves during the offseason.”
Entering the second of the three-year contract he signed last year, Davis is penciled in atop the depth chart, alongside Josey Jewell. For now, as it’s possible, if not probable, the Broncos add competition via the NFL draft.

Davis, however, can take solace knowing some of this newfound optimism coursing through Colorado points his way, too.

“I like those guys with what little I’ve seen of them,” Fangio said at last week’s league meetings. “I haven’t seen a lot. I actually saw more of [ILB] Josey [Jewell] as a college player. That’s more fresh in my mind because I watched him last year. I like those guys.”

Domata Peko Jersey

His son was a year old when Domata Peko’s 325-pound frame and 600-watt smile rolled in to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time. The kid is 14 now, and Peko is a Bronco. Time flies.

“I was there so long, (my son) was a ball boy for our team,” the veteran Denver defensive tackle said of Cincinnati, his stomping grounds for more than a decade, and the site of a win-or-else meeting Sunday between the 5-6 Bengals and 5-6 Broncos. “It’s really crazy. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait to show Cincinnati what they lost, what they’re missing. Very excited to go out there and prove a point.”

The point? You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, baby. Despite 11 seasons and anchoring a defense that reached the playoffs six times, twice as many appearances as the 20 years before Peko arrived in Cincinnati, the Bengals let him walk. The Broncos signed the former Michigan State star to a two-year, $7.5-million deal in March 2017, and the big lug got on his horse and rode west.

“(Cincinnati) gave me a lowball offer, and the Broncos gave me a really good offer,” Peko recalled. “And I had to make the best decision for my family. But definitely, it’s going to be fun going back there and coming back home to Cincy and playing in front of the crowd there.”

No. 94 still keeps a home in Northern Kentucky, along with enough mental snapshots to fill up two Instagram accounts.

“They’ll probably boo me a little bit,” Peko said with a knowing grin. “I’m going to keep doing my same routine when I go out there. Run out of the tunnel with fire, ready to go. And show the city what they’re missing.”

The Queen City got a little taste last November 19, when the 34-year-old defender racked up six tackles, two for losses, against his old squad at Mile High in a 20-17 Broncos loss, then the club’s sixth straight defeat.

Sunday’s meeting sets up with something of a different backdrop, as the Broncos hit the banks of the Ohio River riding a two-game win streak over strong Chargers and Steelers squads. The hosts, meanwhile, will be trotting out a backup — albeit a crazy-fast one — at quarterback in Jeff Driskel, a cat Peko remembers well from the signal-caller’s days on the Bengals practice squad in 2016.

“I said in the (defensive line) meeting, I was like, ‘Man, I remember on the practice squad, that fool was running around. He looked like Michael Vick. He runs like a 4.5 (40-yard dash),’” the big Broncos defender said.
“He’s a pretty quick guy, so we’ve definitely got to keep him contained as part of our plan … he has the threat of running, you’ve got to treat him like a Russell Wilson, that type of quarterback. The key to the game (is tailback) Joe Mixon, man — we’ve got to get after Mixon. He’s a good running back.”
With Peko at its heart, the Broncos defense allowed only 75 team rushing yards to Pittsburgh last weekend and just 95 in Los Angeles the week before that.

“(Peko) just shows you how to be a pro, every day,” Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris said. “Because you don’t have any excuse when you’re tired and everything, and this 50-year-old man is over here running around and out-running you to the ball.”

The old dude has played on 369 out of a possible 749 defensive snaps this season (49.3 percent), primarily on first and second downs. Not bad for a 50-year-old man.

“That’s the thing about Domata, he’s such a competitor,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s just great for the football team and he goes out there and does his thing on Sundays.”

He’ll be remembered in southern Ohio for the things he did on the other days, too — from launching The Domata Peko Foundation to feeding the homeless who had sought shelter underneath local bridges.

“Not everyone really goes under there, man,” said Peko, who plans to wear a quarterback towel with the No. 15 emblazoned on it as a tribute to his old Cincinnati teammate, the late Chris Henry. “You have to have a big heart for the people and a big heart for the city. And I thank God that he placed that into my heart, just to show love to others, show respect to others. And it’s going to be cool to go back. It’s going to be weird, because some people are going to hate on me for being back there. But I know a lot of fans are going to be happy to see me, so I’m excited for that.”

Ronald Leary Jersey

Deadlines spur research.

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After Mike Klis of 9News dug into Ronald Leary’s contract, it was deduced that the Broncos’ starting left guard is highly likely to return in 2019. The structure of Leary’s deal — including his guarantees — essentially precludes the team from parting ways.

Klis explains: “Leary had $5.35M of his $8.15M salary in ’19 guaranteed against injury. He is injured, finishing on IR with torn Achilles. If he can’t pass physical by March 17, and he won’t, his $5.35M becomes fully guaranteed. So Leary is back.”
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It was reported last week that Denver will decide Leary’s fate by March 17, when $5.35 million of his $8.150 million base salary for 2019 becomes fully guaranteed. That it’s protected against injury, however, is a new wrinkle which means he’ll stick around to see his $100,000 workout bonus and $15,625 in per-game bonuses, totaling $250,000, to go along with his $9.218 million salary cap number.

The Broncos would have saved $7.468 million in cap space and absorbed $1.750 million in dead money by axing Leary, who has a 2020 team option that must be exercised no later than next March.

Leary, the ex-Dallas Cowboy, signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos in 2017. He was an immediate revelation at right guard, grading out among Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated blockers and bordering on Pro Bowl status, before a back injury sent him to IR after 11 games.
He returned healthy in 2018 and Denver smartly moved him back to his natural left guard spot. He again performed at a high level, ranking as PFF’s No. 38 OG among 77 qualifiers. Then he sustained a torn Achilles’ tendon, a devastating setback that ended his second Broncos campaign after just six games.

As a whole, the Broncos’ offensive line was decimated by the injury bug, with center Matt Paradis (fibula) and guard Max Garcia (ACL), who replaced Leary, lost for the season. Times were so desperate that two tackles (Billy Turner, Elijah Wilkinson) started at guard, and a guard (Connor McGovern) manned the pivot.

“It’s hard to replace guys like Matt, Ron Leary, guys up front like Max,” now-former starting quarterback Case Keenum remarked in December.
Paradis, Garcia, Turner and starting right tackle Jared Veldheer are slated to become free agents, making life difficult on new OL coach Mike Munchak. There’s little doubt Munchak prefers to retain a semblance of continuity, even though Denver should push to bring back Paradis and Veldheer, and he’ll have his work cut out keeping newly-arrived quarterback Joe Flacco — a human statue — off his back.

It stands to reason that Leary would’ve been retained regardless of money matters. The Broncos simply cannot afford a mass exodus after finally stumbling upon a successful combination.

Colby Wadman Jersey

A collection of Broncos attended the Denver Rescue Mission’s 19th annual holiday dinner party Monday night, with several players serving hot meals, handing out gifts and decorating cookies with children of families in the non-profit’s transitional housing program.

One player in specific, No. 3 with the red beard and Santa hat, doesn’t often get recognized as a football player out in public. On this night, though, one thankful rescue mission resident approached him with: “Hey, you’re the punter.”

Colby Wadman chuckled.

“I’m OK with that,” he said. “Being a punter, I do my job and not really worry about who is getting the glory.”

But a string of exceptional on-field performances is drawing more attention.
The Broncos’ misfire of signing former Raiders’ punter Marquette King looks less painful by the week with Wadman — undrafted from UC Davis in 2017, signed to the Broncos’ practice squad in September and activated since Week 5 at the Jets — quickly proving his value.

Wadman, in the midst of gusting winds at Cincinnati last week, dropped four of six punts inside the Bengals’ 20-yard line with a 42.7-yard net average. Afterward, he was presented a game ball.

“That was the first time I’ve ever gotten a game ball,” he said. “I’d never gotten one all through college or high school. So it was a pretty cool experience, honestly, something I definitely was pretty proud of and happy about.”

Wadman’s road to Denver began in 2017 when he hosted a workout for then Colts’ special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, who later extended an invitation to attend Indianapolis’ minicamp. Wadman got cut, but he left an indelible impression on McMahon, who came away convinced that Wadman would “be in the National Football League for a lot of years.”
Wadman received another chance to be taught by McMahon, who joined the Broncos’ coaching staff this year.

“The bottom line is, what I look for is the strongest leg I can find,” McMahon said.

One of Wadman’s more impressive boots came vs. the Steelers. He launched a punt 50 yards in the air and bounced it inside the Pittsburgh 5-yard line. Wide receiver Tim Patrick downed it at the 3.

“He put the football exactly where it’s supposed to be,” Patrick said. “We definitely give him love all the time because if he’s doing his job, it makes our job a whole lot easier, and he definitely knows how much we appreciate what he does.”

Added safety Will Parks: “It gives us confidence that if he kicks it right there, they’re not scoring. We know that.”

Wadman is thankful to be valued on a team still in the playoff chase entering Sunday’s game at the 49ers. He likes to give back, too, which is why he volunteered to help hungry families this week. And, week by week he’s building a good case to secure a long-term job with the Broncos.
“As each game goes on I feel more comfortable and confident,” Wadman said. “To go out there, relax and know I’ve done this so many times in my life. I’m just kicking a ball out here having fun. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Especially when pinning the opponent deep in its own territory.

“Making a team go 97 or 98 yards is a huge play. I go back, celebrate with my teammates, and with whoever is the one making that play, and enjoy that moment,” he said.

Jared Veldheer Jersey

We already knew that the Broncos are hoping to re-sign offensive lineman Billy Turner. During his NFL combine press conference on Wednesday, general manager John Elway confirmed that the team would like to re-sign offensive tackle Jared Veldheer as well.

“We’re taking a look at Billy Turner and trying to get something done with Billy Turner as well as Jared,” Elway said. He also confirmed that the team will bring back offensive guard Ron Leary, who is recovering from an Achilles injury.
Veldheer will turn 32 years old this summer and missed four games with a knee injury last year but there aren’t many quality offensive tackles available in free agency this offseason. He earned a base salary of $6.5 million in 2018.

While Elway did say the team would like to bring Veldheer back, he certainly didn’t imply that that offensive lineman is guaranteed to return.

“I’d love to bring all our guys back, but there’s only so much we can do,” Elway explained. “That’s why until you get to the market and see where everything is. That’s where everything becomes realistic.

“We can talk about it and evaluate and say what we’d like right now, but until we see what’s out there and what’s involved, it’s hard to be concrete with which direction.”
Before making any cap-saving cuts, Denver is expected to have around $25.5 million in salary cap space this offseason.

Connor McGovern Jersey

More than 30 minutes after his final public workout prior to the NFL draft had ended, Connor McGovern was nowhere to be found.

Some half of an hour earlier, McGovern walked straight off the field and out the exit doors and off-site of the Holuba Hall Indoor Practice Facility, accompanied by a Tennessee Titans scout who desperately wanted to meet with him.

It seems wherever he goes these days, from agents angling to represent him to NFL teams dreaming of a chance to select him, everybody wants a part of McGovern.

“Just trying to take one day at a time,” McGovern, a versatile guard/center at Penn State and former Lake-Lehman star, said. “I’m not trying to think about the draft right now.”

He admits that’s kind of difficult.

Especially when scouts from most of the NFL’s 32 teams flooded Holuba Hall for some final evaluations Tuesday during Penn State’s Pro Day.

That’s when wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins took the opportunity to turn heads with his hands, linebacker Koa Farmer proved he could be a plus in more ways than one at the next level of football and quarterback Trace McSorley showed he has all the necessary skills to be a legitimate NFL quarterback — not cornerback.

“I believe I’m a quarterback,” said McSorley, dismissing talk by some draft experts suggesting he may be a better NFL fit in the defensive backfield and insisting he didn’t hear any teams he talked with urging him to switch positions. “That’s where I put a lot of hard work into training, made my investment. In my heart and in my soul, I’m a quarterback.”

He was a record-setting one at Penn State, and once again proved why on Pro Day.

A total of three passes hit the ground during his 20 minutes on the field, as McSorley kept connecting with darts to various angles and distances, showed a deftness in his drop after spending his whole collegiate career taking shotgun snaps and displayed splendid accuracy hitting targets while on the move.

He did need some help, though.

In particular, Thompkins made a spectacular snag of a 10-yard touchdown throw, whirling his body completely around to pull down a bullet that was both high and behind him in the right corner of the end zone. This came after Thompkins made a sliding grab of a sinking 20-yard throw to the center of the field.

“I still don’t think I’ve reached my potential yet,” said Thompkins, who projects to be a receiver and punt returner in the NFL. “I have a lot to learn. I’m excited to learn at the next level. I do play both, wide receiver and punt return. The more versatile you are, the more they (NFL teams) like you.”

That’s Farmer’s attitude.

The linebacker was out to prove himself Tuesday as a do-it-all option, even going so far as to say he’d feel comfortable taking snaps from center.

“I will play anywhere on the field, except for offense line and defensive line,” Farmer said. “My story at Penn State was, I was playing a different position every year. So I just wanted to show my versatility (Tuesday). I can play quarterback. I’m that confident. I’ll play offense, play defense. Whatever I can do to make a 53-man (NFL) roster, I’ll do.”

McGovern really didn’t have to do much Tuesday.

Satisfied with his performance at the recent NFL Combine in Indianapolis, McGovern opted not to take part in the timed Pro Day dash drills, but recorded a 9-4 in the broad jump, a 4.57 in the pro shuttle and a 7.66 in the L drill — which included players running back and forth between cones to form the shape of a letter L.

“I was very comfortable with everything I did out there (in Indianapolis),” said McGovern, adding he talked to most of the NFL’s team representatives at the combine.

Instead, he concentrated more on displaying his prowess on various blocking techniques — including drills that had him taking on two pass rushers at once, fending off charging defenders with multiple arm positions and showcasing some fancy footwork with his arms behind his back.

“It’s just, several teams use different techniques, and you want to show them you can do them,” said McGovern, who will continue working out on his own at Penn State but will return to his Northeastern Pennsylvania home to host an NFL Draft party when the event opens with the first round on April 25. “I thought it went very well, did some good position work.”

McGovern said he’ll complete his school work at Penn State over the summer.

A true junior and Agribusiness management major, McGovern declared early for the NFL Draft and points out he is just 19 credits shy of obtaining his degree from Penn State — a big factor in his decision to make himself available to NFL teams.

“If I would have been a little further from graduation, that would have been a big factor for me,” McGovern said.

The position he plays in the NFL isn’t.

McGovern, who said he has heard talk he may be chosen as high as the second round of the draft, said the NFL teams he’s spoken with are evenly split while envisioning him as a guard or a center. And his 6-foot-6, 311-pound frame also makes McGovern an ideal option to line up at offensive tackle for a team that needs help at that spot.

“I’ve asked the question,” McGovern said of where he may fit in with the NFL, “most were a split down the middle. But all of them liked the versatility. As a lineman, I can play in any one of those spots, I can play all five. You only get to keep seven, maybe eight (offensive linemen) in the NFL. I think versatility helps.”

Ja’Wuan James Jersey

To understand Ja’Wuan’s appreciation for becoming a Bronco and the richest tackle in NFL history requires a trip back to Christmas Day, 2001, to the living room of an Atlanta suburb.


Long before James received a Tennessee football scholarship, became a first-round NFL draft pick and started five seasons with the Dolphins, he was an unruly 9-year-old opening presents in his Suwanee, Georgia, home specifically wrapped by mom. James didn’t like what he found inside.

A Hammer. Screwdrivers. More and more tools. Huh?

“That was a point in my life when I had a tough time appreciating things,” James said through a chuckle Friday shortly after his Broncos introductory news conference. “She was making an example.”

James didn’t forget the lesson. His mom, Nichelle James-Mickens, sat among reporters Friday in the team auditorium when James credited an important mentor: “My mother. She’s helped me become the man I am today to be able to stand up here in front of y’all.”
Tears welled up for James-Mickens. The tough love worked.

“I’ve always challenged him to believe in himself, to work hard and give it all he has,” James-Mickens said. “I think he learned that lesson from those tools. Since then, it registered that nothing in life is free. If you want it, you’ve got to work for it and be committed. He’s done that.”

Mom laid the groundwork for James’ NFL rise. His wife, Rainey Gaffin, helped steer James to Denver.

The pair married last month and first met as Tennessee student- athletes where Gaffin earned All-American honors twice on the softball diamond. Gaffin grew up in Thornton and starred on the Legacy softball team. So when James made the decision to sign a four-year, $51 million contract with the Broncos, it marked an unexpected homecoming.
“It was kind of surreal,” said Gaffin, who joined James-Mickens at the Friday news conference. “This is where we ended up and it’s super exciting. My home will always be with Ja’Wuan, but now I get to be surrounded by family. … They’re so excited. My phone blew up since with texts: ‘When are you going to get here? When are we going to eat? Where are you going to live?’”

Of course, James’ choice to join the Broncos was a business decision. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound right tackle fits well into Denver’s outside zone blocking scheme, general manager John Elway said, and the team is “planning on him solidifying that right tackle for us.” But James didn’t forget what the move to Denver means for Gaffin, either.
“It’s a blessing that everything fit so well,” James said. “She sacrificed a lot graduating from Tennessee and moving in with me. We ended up getting married two weeks ago and now we’re here. Her family is excited and there are going to be a lot of people in James jerseys running around.”

James’ reputation as a gentle giant off the field, despite his relentless aggressiveness on it, proved viable from his actions. He flew into Denver on Thursday night accompanied by the two people who mattered most. Family first.

“For me as a mom, it was amazing,” James-Mickens said. “To see the fruits of his labor and all that he’s done, Ja’Wuan has always been a hard worker and very committed to his craft. He was very excited to come to Denver. Watching the glow on his face getting on the plane, it just brought nothing but joy and excitement.”

Added Gaffin: “It really shows that when you put forth the effort, anything can come true.”

Kareem Jackson Jersey

Calling Kareem Jackson purely a safety or a cornerback is inaccurate. Over the course of his nine seasons with the Texans, the breadth of his work made him one of the NFL’s most versatile defensive backs, capable of working in any spot in the secondary.

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When he works at cornerback, he has the broad vision of a safety — and with it the ability to quickly analyze the offensive alignment in front of him. When a coach aligns him at safety, he brings an elite cornerback’s knack for distilling the superfluous moving parts down to his specific assignment.

He does both so well he admits that he doesn’t have a specific preference.

“I actually enjoy kind of floating around, playing a little bit of everywhere,” Jackson said. “I feel like that could be an advantage for us as a team game-planning-wise, just depending on what type of skill sets that the offense possesses in terms of the guys that they have.”

Few defensive backs have this sort of Swiss-army knife adaptability. Fewer still can play so many spots — and do so with solid-starter capability.

“It helps a lot with me being able to play the safety spot, just being able to see the entire field, and also preparing and knowing what the offenses are doing,” Jackson said Friday as he met Denver-area media for the first time as a Bronco.

“Being able to see the entire field on both sides — whether it’s receiver splits, recognizing how deep the back is or just little things like that. It also helps me playing corner as well and one side of the field. You kind of have to get a feel for receiver splits [and] formations. Just little things like that can definitely help in your preparing and going into the games on Sundays.”
The Broncos gained more flexibility in their use of Jackson after agreeing to terms with former Chicago Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan on Friday. In three-cornerback sub packages, Callahan can work in the slot, leaving Jackson to handle work on the outside.

Like Chris Harris Jr., Callahan can be used in two-cornerback sets, and the Broncos could use Callahan’s arrival to create opportunities for Jackson to work as a safety — both in the base defense or in some three-safety alignments.

“[Jackson] gives us a lot of options,” Head Coach Vic Fangio said. “Just from week to week we might be able to line him up where we feel he best fits to defend the team we’re playing. He’s smart enough to learn all the different positions. He’s proven it in games and on tape that he can execute the positions, not just know what do to do, but play them competitively and at a high level.

“It’s a big advantage and it helps when you’re looking at other players that you have guys that can move around.”

Jackson’s aggressiveness against the run and willingness to attack and not let others get tackles also pairs well with Harris, who is one of the league’s most active cornerbacks in rushing containment.

“Throughout my career, I’ve just always been that type of guy — [to] kind of get down in the line and be physical and tackle,” Jackson said.

That makes him perfect for Fangio’s defense. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Fangio called tackling a “non-negotiable” attribute in his evaluations of prospective Broncos. Jackson finished last year with 34 stops — tackles that result in a “loss” for the opposing offense — according to Pro Football Focus.

Jackson can do it all, and as he enters his 10th season, he’s doing it better than he ever has before. That’s why Fangio and President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway coveted him, and why he makes Denver’s defense better just by walking into the building.