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Published on 05/23/2012 at Wed May 23 08:30.
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Mike Adams

Denver Broncos safety Mike Adams, pictured here in 2011 as a member of the Cleveland Browns, will continue to wear #20 for the Broncos, last worn in Denver by Brian Dawkins. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brian Dawkins was only a member of the Denver Broncos for three seasons, but in that short time, he left a legacy.

Dawkins, who announced his retirement last month, left a legacy of #20 representing a fierce athlete on the field — a sure tackler with a dominant edge. He left a legacy as a leader to his teammates, both on and off the football field. He left a legacy as the patron safety for a group of up-and-coming young defensive backs in Denver.

And Mike Adams has inherited all of it.

Adams, an NFL veteran of nine seasons and the Broncos’ first free agent signing this offseason, has never been in this position before. He’s never been in any of these positions before.

But it became clear Tuesday that Adams, who will wear #20, is all of those things for the 2012 Broncos, and he is taking it all in stride.

“I just had a talk with the young guys in there,” Adams related. “Rahim Moore had a great day today. I told him, ‘Don’t make it easier for me. Don’t make it easy for Quinton [Carter]. Don’t make it easier for anybody. Make it hard for the coaches to make a decision who’s going to start and who’s going to play when September comes.’”

“That’s what I’m all about,” he continued. “I’m all about competing. I’m all about making everybody better, including myself.”

Making himself better will be paramount for Adams, the presumed starter at free safety for the Broncos in 2012. One does not simply fill the shoes of a future Hall of Famer by sheer will alone. There will be a talent deficit in Dawkins’ absence.

But there’s reason to believe that Adams, a sure tackler and aggressive run defender himself, can exceed the expectations set upon him. After all, he’s made an NFL career of doing just that.

“If you check my track record from being an undrafted free agent to the San Francisco 49ers, they always brought in somebody to replace me,” Adams said. “Fortunately, I’ve been able to last nine years in the league and played my 100th game last year. That’s what I do. I’m a blue-collar guy that goes out and works and competes hard.”

Adams’ blue-collar mentality is already rubbing off on his younger teammates. Undrafted rookie Duke Ihenacho took to Twitter to thank his veteran teammate:

It’s that kind of patronage and camaraderie that shows Adams is already doing the Number 20 justice in the offseason.

On top of it, Adams, 31, is not a bad football player. He started 16 games at free safety for the Cleveland Browns last year, totaling 64 tackles and three interceptions for a Browns defense that ranked second in the league against the pass.

Assuming Adams continues his workmanlike approach and stewardship of his younger teammates, all that’s left for Adams to represent Number 20 is to perform in excellent fashion on the football field.

“Dawkins was a great player,” said Adams. “He brings great intensity, and I try to bring that much intensity when I play the game.”

“Hopefully I make him proud wearing that number.”

  • Jon

    Great read, Kyle!

    I really like our secondary situation.  Like the receivers, there will be a ton of competition for playing time — and that’s a great.

    Mike Adams and (presumably) Quinton Carter in the backend with Rahim Moore and possibly Duke Ihenacho behind them (I really like Duke).  And David Bruton and Rafael Bush as other options.At cornerback we are loaded (in my opinion). With Champ Bailey across from (presumably) Tracy Porter Denver will have Drayton Florence, Omar Bolden and Chris Harris as rotational/nickel backs and that’s not even mention Cassius Vaugh and Syq’Quan Thompson. That’s seven cornerbacks with a lot of potential.I can’t wait for training camp!

  • Monty

    Totally loaded at cornerback. I could see us trading one for a productive DT.

    And by “could” I mean “hope to”.

  • Anonymous

    That’s an awesome story Kyle, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Lol or a Fb cough cough

  • Tom9798

    Great read Monty! . . . Getting more excited every day . . . I can’t believe it’s only May!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit it..In those 3 short seasons I’ll always see #20 as Brian Dawkins’ number from here on out.

    Hopefully Mike Adams will harness some of what Dawkins had so during his upcoming seasons I can say “Brian Dawkins changed his name?!?!?” instead of “Dammit…what are you doing Mike Adams?!?!”

  • Monty

    Yeah that was funny.