Justin Bannan is back as a Bronco, and he couldn’t be happier.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s good to get back out there. It’s weird, it’s kind of like déjà vu to be back out there on the practice field running around. I couldn’t be more excited and driven to have a great year.”
A 16-game starter for the Broncos in 2010, Bannan made 35 tackles along with one sack, four pass breakups and a forced fumble in orange and blue.
That season, however, the Broncos went 4-12. The following season, Bannan joined the St. Louis Rams. He made 32 tackles for the Rams in 15 games played with 14 starts in 2011. But St. Louis went 2-14.
After being accustomed to winning with the Baltimore Ravens for four seasons, the defensive tackle said he’s excited to rejoin a team that has high aspirations.
“I’m tired of losing — it’s been two tough years,” he said. “That’s the nature of the beast. It’s very frustrating. There aren’t many things worse than being on an NFL team that is losing. Last year we won two games. What that does to you mentally is just tough. I’m definitely looking forward to winning this year. Everything looks great on paper, but we have to get out there and work and get it done. We have a lot of work to do. I think everybody has their mind set the right way to come out and have a great year.”
In his career, Bannan has totaled 303 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception, 10 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 144 career appearances.
Back in a 4-3 defensive scheme, where he said he feels most comfortable, Bannan is prepared for an “attacking-style” defense.
He said it’s hard to tell what the interior of the Broncos defensive line will look like judging solely from OTAs, but that will come soon enough.
“I think for every group it is fairly early. We’re putting in a new defensive system. From what I understood, it’s kind of similar to last year’s defense, but at the same time, every defensive coordinator has their tweaks and they have their little things they want you to do. Right now it’s a matter of adapting to that and I think right now it’s about keeping your head down and working hard and working on your technique. At the same time, you don’t have pads on. So, as a lineman it’s hard to develop your game without pads on. I always said, ‘The truth gets told in training camp.’ That’s when you put the pads on, that’s when you find out who is who. We’ll see in due time.”
As far as he’s concerned, Bannan has played at least 15 games in each of the past five seasons, and he plans to work to be a big contributor again in 2012.
“My mindset never changes year to year,” he said. “You have to fight for your job every day in this business and you have to be 100 percent every day. If you’re not, somebody will take it. It’s a rare job to have and I’m very fortunate to have it. I think what I tell young guys is, ‘You better come out and you better work every day and give it everything you’ve got because there are thousands of guys out there waiting to take it.’”
Bannan knows there are expectations surrounding the Broncos this season, and it’s up to the group to fulfill them.
“If you look around the league you are going to have 32 teams out there that have the same buzz, same excitement and everybody thinks they’re going to win the Super Bowl,” he said. “As far as the tone being set, it has been set. We just have to come out and make it happen.”
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