Denver, CO. Think the Denver Broncos brass was a little nervous about their linebacker situation heading into the 2012 season? As training camp is now a week and a half old, the hard truth that D.J. Williams will miss the first six weeks because of an NFL suspension was staring the defense right in the face. Would the Broncos go into the opener on September 9th with the status quo, and just find ways of getting by until Williams comes back in mid-October? Well, they answered that question on Wednesday, signing 14 year NFL veteran Keith Brooking. Why sign a 36-year-old linebacker, who was on the free agency scrap heap, to come in and hopefully help the middle of this defense? Sometimes things that players bring cannot be measured in the box score, and that is exactly what Brooking could do for Denver this year.
Remember the infamous 1998 draft when Peyton Manning went #1 overall to the Colts? Well, there was a linebacker from Georgia Tech who was picked 11 spots later by the Atlanta Falcons. It was Keith Brooking, who hasn’t disappointed in the NFL, and went on to appear in five straight Pro Bowls from ’01-’05. After playing in Atlanta for 11 seasons, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys prior to the 2009 campaign, and has been there the past 3 years. So what was John Elway thinking by bringing in an “old” linebacker, who most critics agree has lost a step or two? If anyone has followed the NFL over the years, and more specifically followed his days with the Cowboys, they have to agree on one thing….Brooking still has the passion and intensity to play this game. What he may lack as far as speed and athleticism, he makes up for with desire and the will to get the job done. In the last couple of years, his pregame on-field “speeches” got plenty of attention. He was the ringleader for the defense and the one who got them fired up prior to kickoff. Although Denver has added some nice pieces defensively, such as Tracy Porter, Derek Wolfe, and Mike Adams, this addition of Brooking could end up meaning just as much. Everyone knows that the leaders on that side of the ball are Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, and Von Miller, but Brooking could be the guy who brings that added intensity and emotion to everyone else. His energy has proven to be infectious in the past, so even if he doesn’t make a play, maybe his raw emotion will make other defenders raise their aggressiveness and cause some havoc for the offense. This 2012 Denver Broncos team is ready to win this year, and obviously the front office is doing all they can to give Peyton Manning the pieces necessary to do so. Adding a soon to be 37-year-old linebacker typically wouldn’t be a recommended acquisition for any team heading into their first preseason game, but it makes complete sense in this situation.
Will Keith Brooking be the vocal leader of this defense this year? It’s too early to say, as it is rare that the “new guy” on any team takes on that role. Brooking probably won’t lead this team in tackles, or have anywhere close to the most sacks. But what he will bring, is intensity that this defense lacked at times last year. He will also bring tons of experience from playing in the NFL for 14 seasons. Brooking will be a valuable “coach on the field”, and could be the catalyst that elevates this defense to new levels in 2012.
Denver Sports by J Simp
Official Online Team Store of the Denver Broncos