The Denver Broncos are starting linebacker Todd Davis on Sunday with Danny Trevathan sidelined, and fans should know that he’s a backup in name only — he’s no slouch.
Todd Davis was acquired by the Broncos just over a year ago when Nate Irving went down with a season-ending injury. The Broncos struggled mightily with injuries at the linebacker positions in 2014, so much so that they shuffled around a lot of different groupings.
Davis, who was then a rookie out of Sacramento State, ended up playing quite a significant bit for the Broncos down the stretch of last season, and he wasn’t half bad.
This past offseason, he worked with the starting unit as both Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan worked their way back from injuries. Davis quickly surpassed fellow class of 2014 linebackers Lamin Barrow (now departed) and Corey Nelson on the depth chart, and now he’ll get another chance to start for a team battling for the top overall seed in the AFC.
Head coach Gary Kubiak had nothing but great things to say about Davis.
“I like him a lot. He’s very detailed. I’ll say this, no player has had a better week of practice than that guy from me watching practice. I’m excited to see him play. There’s a lot on his plate. He still does special teams stuff and those types of things, but he’s worked really hard for this opportunity, so I’m excited to watch him play.”
Davis himself talked about how excited he is for the opportunity to jump in to a defense that is playing as well as any defense in the league right now — probably better — and is probably the best defense the Mile High City has ever seen.
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“It feels great. It’s a great opportunity for me. The defense is playing so well, so it’s just a tremendous blessing to be able to come in and be able to play on a defense that’s doing so well. I know that [ILB] Danny [Trevathan] is going to get back healthy, but in the meantime, I’m going to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
Brandon Marshall, another player the Broncos poached off of the Jaguars’ practice squad a couple of years ago, knows exactly what Davis has been going through having to wait his turn for an opportunity to start. He said he sees quite a bit of himself in Davis.
“Yeah. Heck yeah, man. I told Todd before, ‘You’re going to be a starter this week. You’re going to be a starter. You just have to bide your time.’ It took me three years to start. Everybody’s time comes at a different time. He’s going to be a starter. He’s going to be good.”
To add on to that, Marshall will be sliding over to Danny Trevathan’s position while Davis will take over Trevathan’s responsibilities. That will change plenty in terms of what Marshall’s play-to-play responsibilities are with this defense, but it puts this unit in the best position to succeed against Derek Carr and the Raiders.
“It was a challenge for me because I have to be on point with almost forgetting everything that I’ve been doing the last 14 or 15 weeks and stepping into a new role. It’s really different how you fit the run, your pass responsibilities and how you play a slot formation. It’s really all different, so I just try to throw everything out the window.”
As much nickel as the Broncos play, it could be that Davis doesn’t do nearly as much as we might expect, but he’s certain to have an impact on the game and it sounds like he’s more than ready for that opportunity.