Posted Tue May 22nd by Jon Heath
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.”