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Building a Positive Locker Room

Posted Feb 20, 2014

Head Coach John Fox discussed the importance of building a positive locker room culture Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The revelations from Ted Wells' report on the culture within the Miami Dolphins' locker room and the conduct of some players, a coach and support staff provided John Fox and every other coach a reminder of what can happen when a damaging culture is allowed to fester unchecked.

But while Fox is ultimately responsible for the locker room, his set of eyes alone is not enough. Creating a welcoming locker room and squelching any potential problems requires the vigilance of many.

“I think that's all part of it. I think any coach will tell you that, position coach, coordinator, head coach, you're gathering information, doesn't matter whether you're playing in the game, preparing for the game or getting ready for the game in the offseason, I think you rely on other people," Fox said.

"One guy can't do it, I don't care who it is. You rely on your assistant coaches, you rely on people on your staff, in the building, and that relates to a lot of different areas because these buildings are pretty big now, all of the people that employed by the organization. You always rely on people in any business, your business or our business."

The goal of this is simple: establish a workplace built on respect and trust, and ensuring that a diverse collection of personalities works together harmoniously in a sport that has not always yielded the smoothest of situations.

"What I try to remind our staff, this is somebody's son, and if you have children and understanding that, you do try to create that environment," said Fox.

"It's a combative game, a tough game, there's been some correlations sometimes to the military," he added. "You are dealing with young people, you're trying to help them grow as people, as well of football players, that's the way I approach it."

It's a more holistic approach than what was favored around the NFL in decades long gone. But this evolution goes hand-in-hand with how the culture has changed.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, I think workplaces are different," Fox said. "You try to create ones with respect (and) understanding. People come from all over the place, I don't care what kind of work you're in. So I think it's just become more public, we have to be aware of that, questions you ask in the draft process, how guys talk to each other, some dos and don'ts.

"We're just trying to evolve and get better as organizations, people, I think that's a challenge to all of us."

MOVING FORWARD

The luxury of having a 13-3 team that has won three consecutive division titles and has gone 28-8 the last two seasons is that there aren't many crippling needs, even though the constraints of the salary cap will force some shuffling.

But a return to health of several players should provide the Broncos a boost heading into the 2014 season, relative to where their roster stood in Super Bowl XLVIII. The expected return of players like Ryan Clady, Chris Harris Jr., Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe is a talent injection equal to what any class of free agents could provide.

"You know, I don't know if I'd say we have a lot of high needs, but obviously every team has needs. We will get some guys back, which should help," Fox said.

One of those is safety Quinton Carter, who has not played a regular-season snap since September 2012, when he was forced onto injured reserve because of lingering knee problems.

"He was a pretty good player as a rookie; we went back and looked at some tape on that and compared him to people who are quote 'free agents' that we can't talk about yet because they're on other teams," said Fox.

Carter was good enough to wrest a starting spot away from Rahim Moore during his rookie season in 2011. He capped that year with interceptions in each of the Broncos' playoff games in January 2012, and appeared en route to being an entrenched starter before his injury troubles began in the following offseason.

The signs on Carter's recovery are positive, Fox noted.

"He's having no swelling, which is a big thing for that procedure," Fox said. "He'd be a real bonus if he comes through."