A trio of former Broncos who starred on the defensive side of the ball attended Thursday afternoon’s training camp practice. Safety Brian Dawkins, who retired this offseason, was joined by a pair of Denver Broncos Ring-of-Fame linebackers in Karl Mecklenburg and Tom Jackson on the sidelines today in Dove Valley.
“Well, I think it’s great,” Head Coach John Fox said. “These guys were great players and have a lot of pride, much like all our fans here in Denver. Bringing back the alumni, they always have good messages for the guys because they did win a couple of championships and had great careers so these young guys have learned from them.”
Mecklenburg, a 12th round selection in the 1983 draft, has taken in the past two days of camp as a voluntary coach, working with the pass-rushers.
Finding the quarterback was one of the former linebacker’s specialties during his 12-year career. He notched 79 sacks en route to six Pro Bowl nods.
Mecklenburg, a force on five division-title winning Broncos teams, said it felt great to be welcomed back to Bronco Country, adding that he hopes to see more former players around Dove Valley during the next few weeks.
“It’s nice,” Mecklenburg said. “I’m sure anybody who’s interested in coming out will come out. I know Terrell (Davis) has been out here. A couple other guys, it’s an open-door situation and I think it’s a good idea to take advantage of the wisdom, just the tradition of winning Broncos football teams.”
Mecklenburg spent Sunday afternoon’s practice harping on technique over athleticism. He said that since he was rarely able to rely on his speed, he hung his hat on the technical aspect of pass rushing.
“The young guys have an understanding of what I was able to accomplish,” Mecklenburg said. “To be a pass rusher, and one of the top pass rushers in the league with a 4.9 40(-yard dash), it wasn’t my speed, it was definitely my technique.”
Tom Jackson, now a household name for his work as an analyst for ESPN, was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1992 in honor of a 14-year career during which he started 177 games, compiling 44 sacks and 20 interceptions.
Dawkins, who concluded his 16-year career with three seasons as a safety in Denver, returned to the same fields he was practicing on this time last year. Fox said there was a reason Dawkins chose day four of training camp for his return to Dove Valley.
“That’s why he said he waited until there were pads on, because if he came out here when we were in our underwear still, then he might think he can still do it,” Fox laughed. “In all seriousness, it was great to see him. He’s had a great career with the Denver Broncos. It’s good seeing him, a good friend.”
Mecklenburg spoke for all three men when he said he was impressed with what he has seen from the Broncos so far during camp.
“This team had a taste of success last year,” he said. “They’ve got some new guys that are going to maybe lift them to the next level. It’s always a staircase to the Super Bowl, and hopefully they’re going to be able to get that this year.”