When asked about the qualities Vonnie Holliday brings to the Broncos, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan quickly labeled three things — maturity, experience, and an appreciation for what it takes to win.
Those qualities are an extension of Holliday’s work ethic over his 12 pro seasons. Recovering from a knee injury this summer arguably made the 2009 offseason his hardest.
The adversity only encouraged Holliday to find a path that landed him on Denver’s roster.
“I don’t encourage people not to go to training camp, but this year just taking that offseason off — no OTAs, mini camps, all those things — definitely saved my joints as a 12th-year guy,” Holliday said. “Coming into the season the freshest, the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time.”
Without training camp, the course to that fresh feeling was somewhat unorthodox. Holliday spent the summer months in Atlanta with his therapist, taking yoga classes to get his body into shape.
His 6-foot-5 frame prevented him from doing staple moves like the standing tree. But with a strong base of competitors in the room, Holliday made the most of his time there.
“I’m in the gym back in Atlanta with a lot of housewives, and they are working hard and I’m trying to outwork these women,” he smiled. “But they work hard. And I encourage anybody out there who wants to make a joke or a stab or laugh at me for taking these classes to come join me in the offseason and do some of this work and see if you make it through.”
Months removed from running underwater treadmills and other drills, Holliday has excelled on the field. He’s recorded two sacks over the last two weeks, including one that stripped the ball away from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 20-17 overtime win over the Patriots.
Standing on a 5-0 team, Holliday can’t help but enjoy his role.
“It’s hard to complain with everything that is going on because obviously we are doing something right,” he said.
One of those right things is the credible leadership Holliday exudes in the Broncos’ locker room. Head Coach Josh McDaniels said that was not the reason for Holliday’s signing, but he loves that part of his game nonetheless.
“We would love all of our players to have the same type of leadership qualities that Vonnie Holliday does, but we knew Vonnie Holliday could still be an active, productive football player in our scheme,” McDaniels said. “A guy that we felt like we didn’t have to go through the spring and all of that stuff to try to get to where he could play in our system. That has proven to be the case.”
There was one change to the Broncos’ Injury Report on Friday, as LaMont Jordan was removed from the report.
The Chargers had two changes on their report. After not participating in Thursday’s practice, WR Kassim Osgood (back) was a full participant in Friday’s practice. After fully participating on Thursday, OLB Antwan Applewhite (Hamstring), did not participate on Friday.
Here are some more photos from the start of Friday’s session, including a quartet of wide receivers wearing their pajamas — Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Marshall and Kenny McKinley.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com