Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall (right) and linebacker Steven Johnson against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It’s tough losing anyone in your starting lineup in the NFL. It’s especially tough to lose the ‘quarterback’ of your defense.
That’s precisely what Danny Trevathan is for the Broncos, the guy who makes all the calls in the huddle, and the guy who led the team in tackles a season ago. But the Broncos have players in place in case of injury. We saw how shallow the depth was a year ago when Von Miller was forced to watch the first six games from his couch, and players had to move around the formation. Then what happens if you have injuries?
The Broncos noted their lack of depth at linebacker, and worked to address it this offseason. It helps getting players back and healthy, not the least of which is Von Miller, who is working his way back.
But now, the team has suffered their first really significant blow of the preseason, and it’s an uppercut right to the jaw, but nothing that’s going to knock the Broncos out. Trevathan is a rising star in this league. He’s a tackling machine but I think he’s even better and more valuable in coverage one on one with backs and tight ends, sometimes even receivers.
Trevathan’s value to the Broncos’ defense is immense, but that’s not to say he’s irreplaceable. Last season, the Broncos brought in a fellow 2012 third day draft pick in Nevada’s Brandon Marshall, who has worked in with the first unit at times this offseason in different situations and will now work in on a more permanent basis while Trevathan works toward reaching his estimated return in 6-8 weeks.
Marshall is confident that he can excel in the role. He talked to reporters after practice on Tuesday, a practice filled with fighting and the worst injury thus far in camp. Marshall knows the defense, knows the calls, and he’s ready for action. Andrew Mason’s notes at DenverBroncos.com featured some positive quotes from Marshall.
"“Danny does a great job, and I’m pretty sure they will entrust me in that same position with calling the defense, because I know I can do it,” said Marshall.“We only have smart linebackers on this team. That’s all they sign.”"
Ain’t that the truth. But still, missing one of the team’s emerging defenders will sting, even if Marshall is able to pick up the slack.
What Marshall does have going for him, though, is the fact that over the last two seasons, the Broncos have started two different players at the weakside linebacker position that have had wild success. In 2012, Wesley Woodyard enjoyed a breakout year in Jack Del Rio’s first with the team, racking up 117 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three interceptions, and six pass breakups.
Due to Von Miller’s suspension last year, Nate Irving was forced to play SAM linebacker with Woodyard rotating to the middle, and Trevathan picking up the weakside spot. Trevathan came out of nowhere to rack up a team-leading 128 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 10 pass breakups.
Next in line is Marshall, who will have to fill in for Trevathan for at least a couple games, but clearly this is a position that has produced breakout players the last couple of years in Del Rio’s scheme. The talent obviously has to be there, but Marshall was a guy that most expected to be a better prospect coming out in 2012 than Trevathan.
Now he has his chance to show the Broncos that he’s capable of a major role in their defense.