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Published on 05/22/2012 at Tue May 22 18:45.
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Cornerback Champ Bailey (24, left) talks with Tracy Porter (22, right). (Image courtesy of Stuart Zaas/Denver Broncos)

During the offseason, the Denver Broncos brought in two free agent cornerbacks — Tracy Porter (formerly of New Orleans) and Drayton Florence (formerly of Buffalo).  Besides their obvious similarity in size (Florence has just one inch and seven pounds on Porter), the two cornerbacks have another trait in common, which may have been deciding factors for Denver.

Both corners openly admit they are most comfortable in press, man coverage.  New Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio and Secondary Coach Ron Milus won’t be giving away what type of coverage schemes they’ll be running this season, but both Porter and Florence were adamant on Tuesday when asked which coverage they prefer.

“I think I bring a physical presence at the corner position. Getting my hands on guys at the line of scrimmage is what I take pride in,” Florence noted after practice earlier today.  “When you have guys like Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller coming off the edge you obviously want to throw the timing off. I think we’ll all mesh well together.”  

Last season, while Dumervil and Miller averaged 1.38 sacks a game, Florence started in all sixteen games and finished the year with 12 passes defended, three interceptions and a forced fumble.  Now in Denver, Florence will be competing for playing time in the Broncos secondary.  Whoever starts across from Champ Bailey this fall will benefit from Denver’s ferocious pass rush.

One of the players that will be competing with Florence is Porter, who also prefers press coverage.  “[My strength is] my press ability to get my hands on a receiver, (and) being able to run with their routes,” said Porter.

Porter started in fourteen games last season and defended nine passes while recording one interception and forcing two fumbles.  A fifth year veteran, Porter is learning from Bailey just as much as the younger corners are.

“It’s been my second practice (with Bailey), so I’m just trying to soak up as much as I can.  Any question I think of on the field, I run and ask him. He answers it to the best of his ability because at the end of the day we  just want each other to succeed,”  said the twenty-five year old Porter.

“He’s a great pro, true pro veteran. You can learn a lot from a guy like Champ, seeing all the route combinations,” added Florence.  While learning from Bailey, Porter and Florence have also been giving tips to the younger players in Denver’s secondary, including rookie Omar Bolden and second-year cornerback Chris Harris.

Bolden–Denver’s fourth round draft selection–has quickly become a fan favorite while Harris–who was signed by the team as an undrafted college free agent last year–is coming off a season in which he had secured a starting nickel position as a rookie.

This season, there is a possibility of Bailey, Porter, Florence, Bolden and Harris all being on the field at the same time during six defensive back packages for passing situations.  With a good mix of youth and veteran experience, there is reason to be optimistic about Denver’s secondary.

“Everybody is getting to know each other,” Florence said.  “We’re learning the defense, making the right calls, making the right adjustments. As we progress I think we’ll be good.”

  • Anonymous

    Peyton Manning has considerably raised the expectations of Broncos fans. The almost forbidden words “Super Bowl” are back in the common vocabulary. And it is true that Manning is a serious upgrade to anybody the Broncos could possibly have inserted behind center, either from within or from without the squad.

    However, we realistically must understand that Peyton is coming off injury and a year-and-a-half of absence from the game as a player. Moreover, he is with a new team, new receivers, new coaches, new playbook, and a new scheme. While Peyton will likely be better than anyone else we can imagine, it might be a year before he again approaches his “elite” level of performance.

    Meanwhile (and this is what I’m getting at), I will be looking at the DEFENSE to get the Broncos into the playoffs, if indeed they will get there. Von Miller entering his second year, a healthy Dumervil, Ayers in his second year at his natural position, the additions of Bannan and Wolfe, the expected improvement of Mays, the arrival of Porter, Florence, Bolden, and Adams, and another year’s experience for our other young safeties are what I am counting on this year.

    I think they’ll do it.

  • Duane

    The potential is there both on offense and defense to be very good, but the challenge of a first place schedule will greatly test that potential.  No area needs to improve more then the secondary.   It is great to see experienced players in Adams, Porter, and Florence brought in until younger drafted players can mature.  The potential for a Super Bowl run is there for the first time since Plummer and Shanahan came close. It was awesome to win a playoff games last year, but an upset first round win isn’t close.

  • areferee

    Faith is a powerful force in American life.  We see it in every walk of life, certainly in professional sports, who are regularly in the media spotlight.  Not just religious faith, although that is clearly important and visible through many of the athletes who witness their faith openly.  But faith in the organizations we support.

    As Bronco fans, it is clear that many of us have new-found faith in the potential of our team’s resurgence to its once proud tradition of respect and winning.  I believe that this fan’s faith began anew when John Elway returned to a position of influence within the organization.

    That faith was further bolstered by the acquisition of one of the all-time great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning.  Manning exudes confidence, ability and a proven history of winning.

    Has our “faith” been unchallenged?  No.  Nor will it remain without its challenges.  Just like religious faith, which is accosted by non-believers, detractors and the inherent weaknesses within everyday life, so too will our faith within the organization we support have its tests, weaknesses, missteps, trials and tribulations.

    Faith of every kind is measured, not in being strong and winning every battle, but in believing in your inner desire to become strong and fighting with everything in your power to be righteous along the way.

    What else is there?