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Wade Phillips on Broncos' young linebackers, safeties: 'We're strong there"

The defense had a good day Thursday as two of the newest members of the No Fly Zone - "Parks & Wreck" - wreaked havoc on the offense with one interception each, while the two young linebackers continued to impress Wade Phillips.

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Good morning, Broncos Country!

Sooooo, if you were concerned that Malik Jackson left for the Jags or Danny Trevathan took off for the Bears (while the Broncos declined to draft a single inside linebacker) or that DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller are not at OTAs...no need to panic.

The new guys are picking up where the vets left off -€” kicking ass and taking names.

Well, OK...that wasn't exactly what Wade Phillips said, but it's probably what he meant.

What he actually said was:

  • Todd Davis is doing "a tremendous job" and compared his intensity level to Detroit Lions/Buffalo Bills' four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Chris Spielman.
  • Corey Nelson "has great ability and is utilizing it."
  • Vance Walker has "really come on" and is rushing the passer really well.
  • Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray are "really picking up the slack" while Miller and Ware are out.
  • Rookie safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks each had an INT on Thursday, noting that both are part of the "100 percent club" (guys who haven't missed a question on any of the 25+ tests they've been given).
The new Lionbackers

So like I said, kicking ass and taking names. But Phillips did elaborate on that, highlighting his inside linebackers first.

"[Davis] may not seem like it off the field, but he's really an intense guy. ..He's intense every play on the field," Phillips said Thursday after the sixth OTA practice. "Corey really has great ability and is utilizing it. We feel real strong there."

Davis and Nelson both noted their offseason focus has been a lot study and prep work as they compete for the starting ILB role to fill Trevathan's shoes.

I just really studied a lot of film, a lot of what the Broncos did and starters did last year. I want to mimic that. If I can pursue the ball the way they did, I think we'll be on the right track.  - Todd Davis, ILB

"I just really studied a lot of film, a lot of what the Broncos did and a lot of what the starters did from last year," Davis said. "I want to mimic that. We had such a great season - No. 1 defense. If I can continue to strive to compete the way they did and pursue the ball the way they did, I think we'll be on the right track."

Davis called the comparison to Spielman "a blessing" and attributed that intensity to his focused study habits.

"I feel like I learn a lot off the field. I'm able to help my team by bringing it on the field," Davis said. "My keys and being able to understand what the offense is doing pre-snap and things like that. My pursuit, my intensity like you said, I think those are all things that I bring to the table."

Additional things Davis is hoping to bring to the table are improved speed, flexibility and coverage. "I feel like every part of my game can be improved," Davis said. "I think if I can improve my game all around, it will be better for the team."

For his part, Nelson has been working on shedding blocks and dropping into coverage.

"There is a lot of stuff I have to work on," he said. "That's the whole purpose of being in OTAs -€” to get better."

Although the linebackers are competing against each other, the two friends are using it to their advantage.

There is a lot of stuff I have to work on. That's the whole purpose of OTAs - to get better."  -Corey Nelson, ILB

"With us being close, it actually makes it better," Nelson said. "We're actually out there working hard to make each other better. We're working hard off the field supporting one another. I feel like it is actually a plus instead of a minus."

Both admitted that they were paying close attention to whether the Broncos would draft an inside linebacker as a hint of the direction the coaches wanted to go.

"I definitely was tracking it on my phone," Davis said, noting he felt relieved -€” and confident. "It definitely felt good and it let us know that they have faith in the inside linebacker corps they have now and that they believed in us and wanted to move forward with us for the rest of the season."

Nelson on the other hand said he felt more pressure once the Draft was over and no linebackers had been added to the squad.

"I actually looked at it like, Oh, wow, the pressure is on," Nelson said, adding he doesn't mind it. "I just looked at it as the pressure is on. Now it's time to perform and show them that we can do it."

"Parks and Wreck"

The No Fly Zone starters had the day off on Wednesday but were back in full force on Thursday - and with great success.

"Our secondary today had a tremendous practice, I thought," Phillips said of the performance from Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Jr., Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward. "Most of them had the day off yesterday and came back today refreshed and really did a great job."

But the two newbies in the secondary had an outstanding day, with each getting an interception.

"I'm really impressed with both of their knowledge. They've really picked up the system well," Phillips said of Justin Simmons and Will Parks. "Then on the field, they're starting to pick things up. Like I said, both of them had interceptions again today. That's a real positive."

And special teams coach Joe DeCamillis has been impressed with Parks on kickoff and punt returns as well.

"There are certain guys; the young safety comes to mind, 34, Will Parks," DeCamillis said. "He's done a good job of really putting himself in position for a lot of plays. He's got real good energy out there. That's a real positive so far."

I thought that was a great thing Kube did last year. We came out of OTAs and we had an idea of guys, but we didn't get too high or too low on anybody.  -Joe DeCamillis
Still just OTAs

DeCamillis earned the quote of the week when he pointed out the futility in "settling on" certain players this early in the process.

"That's a very dangerous thing to happen, in my opinion," DeCamillis said. "I think you have to see how it's going to work out and let the competition go. I thought that was a great thing that Kube did last year. We came out of OTAs and we had an idea of guys, but we didn't get too high or too low on anybody."

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