With four starters in the secondary with at least nine years of NFL experience, there’s not much the veteran unit hasn’t seen on the football field.
That’s good news for safety Kyle McCarthy and the three other rookies who have emerged in supporting roles throughout the season.
“It’s huge,” said McCarthy, who has played all six games since being promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 16. “It gives you a sense of calm knowing they’re out there with you and if you have a question they can help you out.”
McCarthy along with rookie cornerbacks Perrish Cox, Cassius Vaughn and Syd’Quan Thompson have all seen time on defense this season, showcasing an ability to adapt to the pro game quickly. They all are playing roles on special teams with many practicing at multiple defensive positions, putting an added emphasis on being prepared each Sunday.
With Brian Dawkins and Andre’ Goodman each missing time this season, including Sunday’s game against Kansas City, the group has been forced into greater roles at times this season, but Head Coach Josh McDaniels said the young players wouldn’t be given the responsibility if they didn’t earn it.
McDaniels said the defensive backs wouldn’t be in a position to contribute so much so soon if they weren’t mentally strong — a trait he attributed to the fact that they each started at least 24 games in their college careers in BCS programs.
That experience helped give the group many of the tools they needed to compete right away in the NFL, but they’ve found success through hard work.
McCarthy said the rookies have honed their approach to fitting in with the unit by watching second-year safeties Darcel McBath and David Bruton, learning the best path to succes from from being able to contribute in as many ways as possible.
“These guys listen,” Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said. “They respect what the others have done in this league and it’s really helped their progress.”
That attitude has turned into production on Sundays.
With Goodman out, Cox, a fifth-round pick in April’s draft, could start his eighth game of the season on Sunday. He’s tied for the team lead with 10 passes defensed. Thompson has worked in at a variety of spots in the secondary, including safety, and made his first career interception in Week 6. Vaughn and McCarthy have each contributed on special teams and worked in on defense when needed.
The influx of new talent at the back end of the Broncos’ defense may make for an interesting dynamic in position meetings with such a mix of experience and youth, but it’s a situation that the head coach believes has benefitted everyone involved.
“It’s like fathers and sons playing out there and they get a kick out of that,” McDaniels said. “I think that’s great for the young guys, in terms of learning how to be a pro, learning how to study, learning how to prepare and then also being able to get the communication from some of those older guys when they’re on the field with them.”
Kyle Orton will appear as a celebrity Santa Claus on Monday at the JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek (150 Clayton Lane, Denver, CO 80206). The quarterback will don the red suit to benefit the Champa House/Denver Rescue Mission. The event lasts from 6-7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.denvermagazine.com/celebritysanta for $10 each with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Champa House, which is a program of the Denver Rescue Mission. Limited VIP packages are available for $100.
Earlier this week, Head Coach Josh McDaniels said Darcel McBath (quadricep) could be available for Sunday’s game in Kansas City. The second-year safety practiced on a limited basis on Thursday working towards that goal.
Brian Dawkins (knee), André Goodman (hip) and Demaryius Thomas (ankle) remained out of action for a second straight practice and will miss Sunday’s game, according to McDaniels.
For the Chiefs, cornerback Jackie Bates (knee) did not practice. Cornerback Brandon Flowers (hamstring), safety Kendrick Lewis and guard Ryan Lilja (foot) were limited in practice. Safety Jon McGraw (head) fully participated in the workout.
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from Thursday’s workout: