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Broncos’ new defensive coordinator confident about scheme, players following voluntary workouts

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Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said it is the third time he and Vic Fangio have put this scheme in together: “It just seems to have gone even smoother each time.”

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Good morning, Broncos Country!

Ah, the week of the draft. It’s finally here!

And nobody is probably happier than the Broncos’ coaching staff so coordinators can stop evaluating a lot of maybe/potentially/could-be-drafted players and start concentrating on just the ones picked for their team.

In fact, Vic Fangio, Ed Donatell, Rich Scangarello and Tom McMahon seem pretty content to just focus on what they see in front of them and not get ahead of themselves with who may come here, who will play what position and which current players are adjusting to any sort of new scheme the best.

“Right now everything’s on teaching, and to get everybody up to speed with the teaching and learning our new system,” said new defensive coordinator Donatell. “We’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made. ...It’s our third time putting this scheme in together, Vic and I, and it just seems to have gone even smoother each time.”

Bryce Callahan, Broncos’ new cornerback who played under Fangio and Donatell at Chicago, has played with this system for four years and has been a bit of a teacher’s aid last week during the veteran minicamp.

“[Callahan] really has good speed, change-of-direction, balance, excellent ball skills, a really, really good leaper,” Donatell said. “He can really process fast on the field.”

Donatell reiterated that last week was all about teaching, not about picking starters or assigning final positions - particularly with a secondary that could see Kareem Jackson as a safety or corner and potentially change Justin Simmons’ role (after playing virtually every position a safety can play last season).

“We’re just teaching it. Everybody’s on track,” Donatell added. “We’re very pleased with [Simmons], and I see a bright future for him.”

Donatell likes the versatility of Jackson and being able to move him to multiple places on the field.

“It’s pretty rare. The guy has played a lot of positions in the NFL,” Donatell said, noting Jackson has been a corner, nickel and safety. “That’s what we like. We just liked the way he played football and we knew we were building this defense. We’ll plug him in where he best suits us.”

But the main thing for the secondary is good communication and playing as a unit, not just a couple of great athletes.

“All of our guys back there, we want guys that can see, guys that can move and guys that can communicate,” Donatell said. “The first thing is that we have to protect the last line of defense back there, and that’s done together. Because all teams have good athletes, it’s how you come together as a group that separates you.”

The defensive coordinator is also really looking forward to having Chris Harris Jr., who sat out of the voluntary workouts to make a point about getting a new contract signed sooner rather than later.

“I think he’s really easy to fit in 11-on-11 football because he’s so competitive and so tough,” Donatell said. “He can win his matchups, and so we’re excited to get him back.”

Although Donatell, like his boss, prefers to watch guys on the field rather than a lot of film, he admits to checking a clip or two of Von Miller.

“He’s a rare, explosive, athletic player, and that’s very viable to playing team defense,” Donatell said, adding that he’ll leave Miller and his sidekick Bradley Chubb mostly to Fangio, the outside linebacker specialist, and OLB coach Brandon Staley.

“They’ll have plenty of coaching for him there,” he added. “They’re going to look for little things. They’ve seen so many great ones over the years together and here’s another one. We’ll put him in a position to bring out his strengths.”

For obvious reasons, Miller is pretty excited about this too.

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