Wesley Woodyard talked a little after Friday’s practice about all the change the defense is going through this offseason. In the mean time, he’s going through a few changes of his own.
“Last year we were really trained on strictly speed, getting ready for the Combine, but now it’s more about power and explosiveness, and that’s something we’ve been able to focus on in the offseason workouts,” Woodyard said.
He explained that one way he plans on being explosive is by adding weight to his lower body, which he has done this offseason. He said he’s up to 230 pounds, up from his 218-pound playing weight last season. But no worries, the extra weight won’t prevent him from “flying around” the same way he did last season.
Woodyard’s spot on the field is yet to be determined, as the team isn’t even finished with passing camp, let alone training camp, but he knows he’ll find ways to get on the field and make plays no matter what.
“Right now we’re just going through some different schemes on the defense,” he said. “Where I’m going to be on the field is still up in the air. Right now I’m just contributing on special teams like I did last year, and out there basically just having fun.”
Working on the different schemes is all part of a transition toward a 3-4 defense, headed up by Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan. Woodyard said he has been a big fan of Nolan for a couple years, and he had a chance to work under the coach before both of them joined the Broncos.
“To me he’s a great coach,” Woodyard said. “I actually had a chance to play for him at the Senior Bowl. He has a lot of knowledge about the game — different schemes, what will work and what won’t work. He’s a players’ coach, and he knows how to relate to us.”
Ronald Fields agreed, calling Nolan a “stand-up guy.” The 315-pound defensive lineman said he is penciled in as a starting nose tackle at this point, a position he occasionally filled under Nolan when both were with the San Francisco 49ers.
He was asked about his feelings on the sometimes less-than-glamourous job of a nose tackle in the 3-4, and he said he relishes the opportunity.
“It’s not difficult at all to me — I like being in the midst of it and being in the middle,” he said. “In the 3-4, the key point is having a good nose tackle, so if you don’t have anybody that can hold the nose, your 3-4 is not going to be real sturdy and not be real good. I like being in the middle. I like the contact and being able to be in there.”
So the defense is transitioning to a new scheme and putting the pieces together along the way. But Woodyard said that in the end, it all comes down to discipline and heart — and not letting down your teammates.
“The scheme is different, but I have to say that we’ve got guys in the backfield, great leaders, and you don’t want to disappoint those guys,” he said. “Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey’s back there — you want to give it your all every time you’re on the field. So I think we have a lot more leaders that are able to play this year.”
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com