The Denver Broncos defense is getting an overhaul. The switch to a 3-4 defense has brought big change along the defensive line and the linebackers but in the defensive backfield two players find themselves in a familiar battle with new coaches.

Kayvon Webster and Omar Bolden once again will have to prove themselves in the offseason in order to see the field in the fall. Both players know the pressures of making an NFL roster but this offseason will not be any easier with a new staff and a stacked group.

Bolden and Webster sit on the second tier of the defensive backs group that boasts three Pro Bowlers and the impressive second-year cornerback Bradley Roby. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made it obvious Thursday that he is not losing any sleep when it comes to his backfield.

“I think we have an exceptional group. I think everyone knows that,” Phillips said Thursday. “They all have ability and they are all hard workers. They are all smart players. I have no complaints about the secondary that’s for sure.”

That is a nice endorsement if you are a starter but that places a ton of pressure on the second and third units.

Bolden is entering his fourth year with the Broncos after going 101st overall in 2012 and is making a big adjustment to safety. He played the position sparingly while seeing the field in all but one of the Broncos games during his career while on specials teams.

“I have moved positions, I guess permanently, for now at least. I’m just trying to get more comfortable at the free safety position and competing. That’s what it is all about. This league is all about steady competition,” Bolden said Thursday.

He will be primarily competing with free agency signee Darian Stewart and longtime team leader David Bruton Jr. for playing time and maybe even a roster spot. It is a challenge that he not only is used to but seems better prepared for in 2015.

“I’ve had a little taste of it before. I was kind of thrown into the fire. At least this time around I’ll have an opportunity to get the work in, the practice in at OTAs and minicamp. So, I’ll be a little more prepared once the season starts.”

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) Bolden only saw 17 of his 49 total snaps on defense from the free safety position in 2014 but graded out well. If he cannot transition from cornerback to safety smoothly it will be tough for the Broncos to bring him on to the 53-man roster again. He remains high on the depth chart as a kick returner but must prove he can be an asset on defense as well.

Webster finds himself in a very similar situation. He is entering his third season in the NFL after the Broncos selected him 90th overall in 2013. He has played sparingly in over 25 games but only has two starts. Last season, just as he was gaining playing time in nickel packages injuries slowed his progress. With names like Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib on the roster Webster knows he must just find a role, even in June, in order to see the field in September.

“I’ve been playing in the nickel right now. I’m just trying to earn my spot,” he said Thursday.

In 132 snaps in 2014, all at cornerback, Webster graded out well on PFF. He knows he will have to stay healthy and show the new staff what he can do. It is a proposition he knows well and is ready for on a daily basis.

“With any coaches, new or old you always have to prove yourself. You just have to show them what you can do and let them make their decisions.”

Webster is on the cusp of getting major playing time on defense but it appears he will have to beat out Roby who played exceptional well in his rookie season. However, like Bolden, his importance to special teams may help him stay on the roster.

Phillips made an unambiguous statement Thursday as to how he views certain types of players and it is certainly something they are all striving to do.

“Smart players always get better and that is has always been the case. They learn to do things better or how to do it a little better.”

Minicamp is a time to get the wheels in motion and begin to fight for a roster spot. Webster and Bolden are now veteran Broncos, seeing several offseasons out at Dove Valley. If they are the players that Phillips referenced they must prove that after a few seasons they are not staying stagnant but are getting better. The talented unit of defensive backs both ahead of them and behind on the depth chart certainly won’t be waiting on them.


Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis spoke to the media Thursday and clarified several questions pertaining to the unit starting with how many roster spots he wants used for specialists.

“Ideally you would like to have one punter, one kicker and one long snapper. That’s the amount of specialist that we would like to carry going in,” He said.

DeCamillis also shed some light on any sort of punting competition between veteran Britton Colquitt and newcomer Karl Schmitz saying, “It was a good day today for both of them from the standpoint that they were pretty even and that’s the way it has been.”

Both Kubiak and Phillips stated that they were very pleased with Sylvester Williams’s progress through organized team activities and this week’s minicamp. Phillips also commented on the teams’ first-round pick, Shane Ray.

“Shane Ray has come along real well in the classroom; he needs to take it to the field. He hasn’t had as much work as we would have liked. He strained a quad muscle a little bit so he missed some full speed time but he is so sharp on the board and watching film.”

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