Two of the Broncos' three free-agent signings in the first 24 hours of the league year were in the secondary: safety
Their task will be to restore the secondary to its 2012 form. The Broncos hope the aggressiveness of Ward and Talib provides that; they provide a stylistic counterweight to Harris' cerebral and tactical proficiency and Moore's ability in pass coverage. The newcomers were both Pro Bowl selections last season.
But because Harris is recovering from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and Moore is returning from last year's bout with compartment syndrome, it might take a while before communication flows smoothly, and will depend on when Moore and Harris can take part in organized team activities. The meetings in which the defensive backs participate during the current phase of workouts can only do so much.
"We can work on (communication) a little bit now, but most of that is going to come when we get on the field and start doing more team activities and actually seeing the plays and seeing how things develop and just knowing each other," said Ward. "That is going to come with time.”
And the Broncos hope the unit has the good health that eluded it in 2013. Including the postseason, six different defensive backs combined to miss 25 games to injury, led by Moore and the since-released Champ Bailey, who missed nine apiece.
Given the length of the contracts to Talib and Ward and their ages, the Broncos feel as if they've found two secondary linchpins for the next few years.
"That just goes to show you that it's not for 'now.' We want young football players that are going to be here for a long time, and they're still young in their career and continue to get better," Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway said last month.
But it's what lurks beyond that could be interesting. The first contracts of Moore and safety
But last year's third-round pick, cornerback
Of those, Webster appears to factor most prominently in the Broncos' short-term defensive plans. He played 47.8 percent of the snaps in the Broncos' first 14 games before he suffered a thumb injury. The prevalence of nickel and dime formations essentially makes the third cornerback a starter; in the seven games before he was hurt, he handled that role and played more than half the snaps each time.
Webster showed tenacity and ballhawking tendencies in the preseason and in his initial stretches of regular-season work, but that faded as he focused more on coverage as his playing time grew. The success as the Broncos transition to a new generation of defensive backs is as much predicated on the growth of Webster as the performances of Talib and Ward.
What Denver possesses is experienced depth. Carter and