Line Backer Line-up

May 23, 2007

During this brief camp we’ve gotten to see some of new players that will be competing for starting jobs as the OTA days continue. One of the biggest defensive holes to fill will be the ones at line backer. With Al Wilson gone after a neck injury, DJ Williams has been moved to the middle. Ian Gold is well entrenched on the weak side, which leaves DJ’s old strong (Sam) side LB slot wide open.

The coming competition should be a great one to watch as we have several great guys that could fill that spot. Here’s a quick look at the contenders…

Nate Webster (#58) already has one Super Bowl ring from his time with the Tampa Bay Bucs. The year of that Super Bowl win Webster recording 33 tackles (23 solo) and placing fourth on the team with 16 special-teams stops that year. But after spent his first four years in Tampa, Webster left as a free agent to Cincinati where serious knee injuries kept him off the field. He signed with the Broncos last May and has not only made a full recovery from his past injuries but also impressed both his coaches and teammates.

“Nate Webster is a natural player. This is a guy who is a starting-caliber player in the NFL — he fits right in.”

— Al Wilson 11/14/06

Warrick Holdman (currently wearing Wilson’s #56 jersey) is entering his 9th NFL year. Having played for Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, he has more starting experience than any of the other contenders with 84 starts (in 105 regular season games). He has more than 500 tackles (390 solo), seven forced fumbles, five sacks and an interception on his resume. He has started at least 10 games in five of his last eight years and started all 16 for Washington last year. However, at 31 years old he understands his experience and knowledge will be his edge.

“I feel good. I’m not 23 years old no more, but I feel like I know what I’m doing. I’ve seen a lot of routes and a lot of different blocking schemes. And I have to use that a little bit more because I’m not 22- or 23-year-old anymore. That’s just a fact.”

— Warrick Holdman 5/22/07

“”I liked his steadiness. He is a true vet, a true pro. He knows how to play football, and the big thing in bringing guys in with that veteran status is you want solid, good guys who have a passion for football. And that’s what Warrick fits.”

— Jim Bates 5/22/07

Cameron Vaughn (#59) was picked up as an undrafted college free agent by Denver last May. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, but don’t think Vaughn can’t play at this level. He was a three year starter for LSU where he played 52 games (33 starts) and totaled 239 tackles (121 solo). He played two years at weakside, before starting his senior year at middle. In that year he posted a team best 83 tackles (46 solo) and one sack. In 2003 he helped his team win the national championship. Last year, Denver coaches tested Vaughn at all three positions, so versatility may help win him a spot.

Louis Green (#53), a college free agent picked up briefly by the Ravens, spent his first two years with the Broncos on and off the practice squad, before he landed a roster spot in 2004. He has been a special teams ace for the Broncos with a 2005 performance that ranked third on the team with 10 stops in 14 regular-season games. With former special team LB Keith Burns’ move to the coaching staff, Green could move into an on-the-field leadership role on special teams this year — filling the spot Keith Burns has filled for years in Denver.

Eddie Moore (#51) is another University of Tennessee product (see Al Wilson). At UT Moore appeared in 46 games (24 starts), posting 219 tackles, including six sacks, an interception a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and 13 passes defensed. He was Miami’s 2nd round draft choice in 2003, but spent that season on IR due to a left Lis-Franc injury in the preseason. In 2004 he played in 13 games for Miami and registered 34 tackles, a fumble recovery and four passes defensed. He also placed third on the team with 12 special teams stops where he also posted a forced and recovered fumble. He spent all of last year out of football after ending up on IR again in 2005.

T.J. Hollowell (#57) competed in Denver’s training camp before he was placed on the club’s reserve/injured list in Aug 2006 with a left calf injury. Before coming to Denver, Hollowell spent his first two NFL seasons hopping from one practice squad to another. At Nebraska, Hollowell played 49 games (14 starts) and totaled 173 tackles (76 solo), 3.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, a pair of interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. He also made appearances in the Rose Bowl and Alamo Bowl.

D.D. Lewis (#54) — another college free agent — played the last five years for the Seahawks. In 48 career regular-season games (19 starts), Lewis has totaled 141 tackles (103 solo), one sack, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He also has played four career postseason games (3 starts), including a start in Super Bowl XL during the 2005 season. He brings experience as well as skills and could end up on the roster.

Line Break

Most of the attention will be on the starting Sam slot and Mike position Williams has moved to, but the real fight will happen right behind that with special team contributions playing a major role. Coach Shanahan likes to keep several LB on the roster but most of the back ups MUST be playmakers on special teams.

With all these guys competing, we should have some really awesome training camp video (not to mention preseason footage) to watch!


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