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Defensive Leaders Making Their Mark

Posted Nov 11, 2011

With Elvis Dumervil's 1.5 sacks and Champ Bailey's two interceptions last week, Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen likes the direction his defense his heading.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Before the Broncos played the Packers in Week 4, Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen spoke to the fact that the Broncos hadn't recorded an interception yet in the season.
 
"You get one, and the next thing you know, you've got three or four," Allen said at the end of September. "Then, nobody's talking about how you don't have any interceptions. I don't worry about that. We try to do the best we can to stop the offense, and obviously, we're trying to take the ball away every time we get the opportunity."
 
He was right.
 
Since that day five games ago, the Broncos defense has eight takeaways -- six of which have been interceptions. Contrast that with the three takeaways the Broncos had in their first three games, and Allen likes the way his defense is coming together.
 
"I think the more we come together as a unit, both as a coaching staff and as players, obviously the more tools you have in your tool chest the more opportunity you have to do different things," Allen said Thursday.
 
Several of the Broncos defensive leaders stepped up last week against Oakland, giving Allen that flexibility he desires.
 
10-time Pro-Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey recorded his first two interceptions of the season, the second of which sealed the game for the Broncos. Bailey has been assigned the opponents' top receivers over the past few weeks, and that should be no different this week if he matches up with Kansas City wideout Dwayne Bowe.
 
Allen has confidence in Bailey, saying Bailey rises to the occasion anytime he is challenged.
 
"It helps because you feel like you can match him up on their best player and feel like you have a good chance of being successful over there," Allen said. "He's going to win his fair share of battles just like any great corner. You're going to get beaten some, but he's going to win his fair share of battles, and he's done that every time we've asked him to do that. It's a comforting feeling for me as a coordinator knowing that we can call different things. It allows you to do a few other change-ups and help out in other areas."
 
One of those "other areas" is the pass rush. While Bailey picked off his first two passes of the year, defensive end Elvis Dumervil was busy also getting on the stat sheet for the first time. He was part of two sacks on Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer, combining with linebacker Von Miller to pressure the Oakland signal-caller.
 
"I certainly hope and expect that those guys are going to continue to get to the quarterback," Allen said. "It's not always about sacks. It's about affecting the quarterback and getting pressure on him and making him throw the ball before he is ready."
 
If those three players can continue making plays, Allen likes what could be in store for his defense.
 
"If we can get Elvis playing healthy, Champ really playing good at the corner position, Von coming off one edge, it gives us the ability to do a lot of different things," Allen said.