Denver Broncos defensive tackle Mitch Unrein is a guy you can’t help but root for. His roots are entrenched in the Rocky Mountain area so deeply that as he climbs the depth chart within the first three days of training camp, heads are turning and local claps are louder than ever for the undrafted second year work horse.
Unrein hails from Eaton, Colorado, and played ball at the University of Wyoming before the Houston Texans signed him as a free agent in 2010. The Broncos signed Unrein to the practice squad shortly after the Texans cut him.
As Justin Bannan nurses a calf injury on the sidelines, Unrein is getting his opportunity to compete next to Ty Warren as a member of the starting defense.
“I think he’s pretty fired up about it,” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said after Saturday’s practice. “Again like the other guys, they’re all going to get plenty of reps, and Mitch has done a nice job.”
The team had their first full practice in pads Saturday which brings extra excitement and a competitive fire to camp.
“I was one of the players that benefitted from being in pads,” Del Rio said. “A lot of times, I would be out in the spring and take my job back in the fall so you can’t really settle too much until you get the pads on…I think the guys were really ready to be in pads.”
The 6’4″, 299-pound Unrein added eight to nine pounds during the off season, but he still needs the work in pads in order to improve.
“He’s undersized so he’s got to really work to have his pad level together and be able to anchor down where we need him to anchor,” Del Rio said of Unrein. “His effort is excellent. The passion he plays with is excellent.”
Unrein had 8 tackles in 14 games for the Broncos in 2011.