Curome Cox came to the Broncos in 2004 as a cornerback looking to make himself valuable on the Broncos’ practice squad. He left the 2006 season having established himself as a crucial part of the team, with the ability to not only play cornerback and safety, but status as one of the key members of the special-teams units, as well.
Injuries in the secondary — specifically to safeties Nick Ferguson and Sam Brandon — forced Cox into the starting lineup in November alongside John Lynch at safety. His work there was the culmination of something that began out of necessity during the 2005 training camp, when injuries drained the Broncos’ safety complement and forced Cox into temporary duty at the slot. His work there was so solid that the Broncos learned they had their answer to a utility infielder in baseball.
Cox grew in the year and a half that followed — mainly because there was no other option.
“Being around a group of guys like Nick (Ferguson), John (Lynch) and Champ (Bailey), there’s no way it can get worse — you’ve got to get better, especially with the coaching staff we have,” he said in November. “So I always feel like I’m steadily improving.”
When Brandon and Ferguson were injured at Pittsburgh in Week 8, Cox had perhaps his finest sequence to date, recovering a Hines Ward fumble near the goal line and intercepting Ben Roethlisberger to allow Denver to hang on for their first-ever win at Heinz Field. Cox’s duties that day were unexpected, but he was nonetheless prepared.
“Coach (Bob) Slowik and (Head) Coach (Mike) Shanahan always tell us, ‘Mental reps at all times,’” Cox said. “There’s certain situations where the guys don’t even get reps in practice, but because you prepare yourself and study just as well as the starters, you’re ready to go in and not get beat.”
Maintaining that diligence is crucial if Cox is to continue his growth.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Led the Broncos with 15 special-teams tackles … Four of his five career starts came this past season … Has been active for every game since the Broncos promoted him from the practice squad prior to a Week 4 game at Jacksonville during the 2005 season.
NEXT: Quarterback Jay Cutler.
AND ONE MORE THING … Yes, it’s always fun to channel Comic Book Guy, the Simpsons character with the three-word catchphrase “Worst … episode … ever.” But only when it’s accurate. The Kansas City Star‘s Jason Whitlock opens his postgame tome from Super Bowl XLI as follows: “Worst. Super Bowl. Ever.” Come again? This wasn’t even the worst Super Bowl of this decade. Give me Sunday’s big plays and detours into sloppiness over the desultory 34-7 Ravens romp over the Giants in the XXXVth edition of the season-ending carnival. The only fun in that game was sitting behind none other than Mr. Did-You-Ever Notice, a.k.a. 60 Minutes essayist Andy Rooney, in the auxiliary media section. I wasn’t sure which part of the experience dismayed him more — the fact that his beloved Giants had such a lousy day or that he was within earshot of a fusillade of f-bombs fired by a media member sitting down the row from me.