ENGLEWOOD – When August began, Keith Brooking wasn’t sure if his 14-year career would make it to a 15th season. He went unsigned through free agency after the Dallas Cowboys let him go, and his phone rarely rang as he made it clear he would be judicious about deciding whether to come back.
A call from the Broncos during training camp piqued his interest, and after making it through a tryout and overcoming a preseason hamstring injury, he found a role in Jack Del Rio’s defense as the team’s weakside linebacker in base packages — and as Joe Mays’ backup at middle linebacker.
This week, I caught up with the affable Brooking to ask him about his role, his recovery from a concussion he sustained at New England last week and his adjustment to Colorado after spending his previous years in Dallas and Atlanta.
YOU SUFFERED A CONCUSSION LAST SUNDAY. HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
I feel great. I passed all my tests on Tuesday, the mental aspect of it, and then physically I worked out really good (Wednesday), I did a lot of cardio, I got a great strength workout, I had no effects right after, I had no effects (Wednesday) when I was at home chasing around my young’uns, I slept really good that night and woke up (Thursday) feeling great and participated fully in our practice and had no setbacks whatsoever.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
Good question. I’m really not sure. I mean, it’s happened before and it’s something I could fight through and play through, but this was something that for a significant amount of time, for multiple plays, I wasn’t right in my balance and things like that. Obviously our staff and the NFL, they do a great job of being cognizant of that, and they didn’t allow me to go back in there. The good thing is that I came back in the next day with a really good positive reaction.
Things like that have happened to me multiple times, and I’ve been able to fight through it, but this is something that was extensive and for a longer period. I think I was affecting our team by being out there. They’re doing a good job of being alert for guys.
HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR ROLE, PLATOONING AT WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER WITH WESLEY WOODYARD?
I said when I got here it would all work itself out. I think we have great depth at the linebacking position right now. You have to know multiple positions and be on alert during the game, because it’s forever changing week in and week out, play in and play out. So I think it’t great. It’s important to be prepared and ready to go. As this thing evolves throughout the year, whatever happens, I’m comfortable with it and I’m willing to go out there and do everything in my power to help the team win.
IS THE SHUTTLING BETWEEN YOU AND WOODYARD KEEPING YOU FRESH?
Well, it helps keep me fresh. I can’t speak for the other guys with the young legs, but I’m realistic about my role. Do I need to be out there playing 60 or 70 snaps a game? That’s probably not best for our team or best for me. With the playing time I’m getting right now, I have the ability to stay fresh, which is very important. I feel like when I’m out there, I can be active and help our team make plays.
YOU TALKED ABOUT PLAYING WITH YOUR KIDS. HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE YOUR FAMILY HERE, EVEN THOUGH YOU NEEDED TO RELOCATE ON SHORT NOTICE?
Oh, yeah. We talked about it, and that if I did have an opportunity, I wasn’t going to come by myself; my wife and kids were going to be with me. We’re very blessed and fortunate to have our kids at an age to where it doesn’t affect them. They’re six, four and 23 months. To move them for six or seven months out of the year, it’s not a huge impact on their lives and their school. It was an easy transition. My wife, she has a lot of backbone and she takes care of that end at this time of year and I take care of the business of football. It’s been great. It’s been an easy transition, and we love Denver. We love the town. There’s a great atmosphere at the home games. The fans have been unbelievable. It’s been a great time so far.