Before showing their support at the 35th Annual Sports Breakfast, benefitting the Boy Scouts of America, Head Coach John Fox and Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway addressed a number of topics, including the decision to release defensive linemen Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams and re-sign Kevin Vickerson.
“Those things are never easy,” Fox said. “In this process you have a budget and a cap, and all those things come into play. I think right now we were able to sign a youthful guy in Kevin Vickerson. We got Champ Bailey — I don’t know how youthful he is — but you guys know as well as I do what he brings to the table, both on the field and in that locker room.”
Elway said the team needs to get younger on the defensive side of the ball, and Fox noted that Vickerson’s play in 2010 stood out as the team decided which players to retain.
The sixth-year pro set career highs last season with 42 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble, adding three passes defensed. He played in 15 games for the team, starting 12.
“I think he probably had his most productive year a year ago,” Fox said. “He’s a young guy that has bounced around a little bit, and I don’t know if he’s turned the corner but he’s definitely on the curve. He’s a guy we think can definitely help us. He’s got a lot of the tools physically that we’re looking for.”
As for the depth along the defensive line, Elway said much of that depends on how the next few months play out.
“We’ll still hopefully get a chance to talk to Jamal and Bannan down the way, but we’ll see how this whole thing unravels,” Elway said, adding that Marcus Thomas has decided to test the free agent market. “We’re still waiting kind of in limbo seeing what’s going to happen. Hopefully we get a deal this Friday and we continue to go forward.”
HEADING TO CAMPUS
As Broncos TV covered in this morning’s video, Fox, Elway and General Manager Brian Xanders headed to Auburn, Ala., with a Broncos contingent to watch the Tigers’ Pro Day today, featuring two potential top-five picks in quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
“Brian, John and I, we’re going on this one together,” Elway said of the first trip to a college campus. “We haven’t determined what the schedule is going to be after this, but obviously on the first one we’re going to be going together.”
From there, the group will head to Alabama’s Pro Day — where top players like defensive tackler Marcell Dareus and receiver Julio Jones will work out — make a pit stop in Boca Raton, Fla., to meet with a player, then travel to Texas A&M for the Aggies’ Pro Day, featuring another top-five prospect in linebacker Von Miller.
“This process is important because you’re evaluating them not just as a player but as a person and what they’re going to bring to your organization,” Fox said. “It lets us get to know the player outside of the helmet.”
With about seven weeks left until the 2011 NFL Draft, Elway said the club is on a busy schedule to “get as much done as we can,” so the team can build a successful draft board as the weeks count down.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com