The Broncos’ changes this offseason leaned heavily on the offensive side. The defense remained one of the NFL’s top units in 2016, but inside those meeting rooms they aren’t content with remaining status quo.
“My message to the whole group this year was that we have to reset. I feel like after the first year we won the Super Bowl we were flying high,” said Woods, the Broncos’ defensive backs coach the past two years who now is the defensive coordinator. “Guys came back and they worked hard, but it wasn’t the same thing.”
Woods knows better than to fix what wasn’t broken, but a little more variety and complexity could help keep offenses off-guard. That means disguising more coverages, sending exotic blitzes and not being as predictable early in games.
“There’s no secret to what we do. We line up and say, we know what you’re going to do, you know what we’re going to do, let’s see who wins,” Woods said. “There wasn’t really a lot of variance or change in terms of the calls we ran. We had a lot of success doing it that way. If our 11 can beat your 11, we’re going to win. We just struggled early on. Moving forward, I’m going to make sure I have a little bit of variety and a little bit of change in terms of what we do — especially early in the game.”
Safe better than sorry. The sideline was more crowded than usual Wednesday with injured players sitting out practice.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall, battling a sore Achilles, was the biggest new name. He said the team was just playing it safe after he became sore Tuesday.
Receivers Carlos Henderson (soreness), Isaiah McKenzie (sickness), Kalif Raymond (hand) and Marlon Brown, tight end A.J. Derby (hamstring) and Jake Butt (knee), center Matt Paradis (hips) and quarterback Chad Kelly (wrist, knee) also didn’t practice. Jamaal Charles participated in individual drills, but sat out team drills.
“We’re just being smart, Joseph said. “We want guys to leave here healthy so they can go home and train for the next five weeks.”
Another Chris Harris. The Broncos made a slightly surprising transaction waiving cornerback Taurean Nixon to make room for cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris, who played for Joseph in Cincinnati.
“He’s played nickel and he’s played as an outside corner also. We wanted to add a guy with experience to the secondary room as far as the fourth or fifth corner,” Joseph said of Lewis-Harris. “Losing (Kayvon) Webster in free agency is a big deal. That fourth or fifth corner is one play from playing so we wanted to add a guy to the roster that’s played an NFL game. If something would happen, we’d feel OK about it.”
Nixon, a 2015 seventh-round pick who spent most of his two years in Denver on the practice squad, had a pick-six of quarterback Paxton Lynch on Tuesday. Lewis-Harris has played five seasons with the Bengals and Ravens.