When cornerback Drayton Florence signed with Denver, he said it was all about timing.
The Broncos are coming off a strong defensive season, quarterback Peyton Manning has joined the team and Florence has a chance to compete for a championship in his 10th NFL season.
“I’ve got a great group of DBs I’ve been working with and a lot of competition back there,” Florence said Tuesday during OTAs. “So I’ve enjoyed it so far. A little competition is good for everybody. The situation that they brought me in, to compete for a starting job, possibly playing nickel, is something that I thought was a great opportunity for me. With Peyton Manning being here and it being my 10th year in the league, I’m trying to win a Super Bowl ring. I’ve enjoyed it so far, everything is going smooth. I’m getting comfortable, getting settled in and into the community, and things are going pretty good so far.”
When asked if he’s expecting to play the nickel cornerback position, Florence made it clear that everyone — with one exception — is battling for a starting spot.
“(Head) Coach (John) Fox told me that if I come here, everyone is going to be competing,” he said. “Nobody in the secondary has a job except for Champ Bailey, which is obvious, and everyone else is out there competing. That is what we’re going to do. All the good teams have competition at every position and that is how you build a successful team.”
Florence spent the past three seasons with Buffalo after one year with Jacksonville and five with San Diego.
The cornerback played under Broncos Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, and he said a little of the defensive scheme is familiar, but there’s plenty different, and the club is in the early stages of installation.
Regardless of the scheme, Florence knows what he and the rest of the defense has to do this season.
“Football is football — it hasn’t changed in one hundred years and it’s not going to change,” he said. “It’s about tackling the football, getting turnovers, and this year since we have one of the better quarterbacks in the league, turnovers are going to be a thing that we are really focusing on. If we can get Peyton as many opportunities to go down and get us six points, it’s going to put us in the win column a lot this year.”
The 10th-year pro has 17 interceptions for his career — including three last season, one of which he returned for a touchdown. It marked the second interception return for a touchdown in his career.
In addition, Florence has accumulated 441 tackles, 87 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries — one for another defensive touchdown — in his career.
Even with nine years of NFL experience, the veteran said he won’t hesitate to learn from fellow vets like cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Mike Adams, to “take a few of the things that they do well and put it in my toolbox.”
And he doesn’t feel he’s slowing down.
“The older you get the smarter you should be getting,” Florence said. “You’ve seen a lot, nothing should really be new. Week-in and week-out you should know how to prepare for teams. Like I said, being around veteran guys is only going to make me better, guys like Champ Bailey and Mike Adams in the secondary. In this business you have to keep improving, and if you don’t, you all know how that goes.”
Florence said he brings “a physical presence” at the corner position, and prides himself on getting his hands on receivers at the line of scrimmage.
With so many other talented players on both sides of the ball, Florence is excited for what 2012 could bring.
“The opportunity came up for me where I had a chance to come out here to Denver and play with Champ Bailey — obviously a guy I’ve looked up to my whole career — and then Peyton Manning,” he said. “So it was an easy decision for me to make.”
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