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Expectations High for Haggan

Posted Jul 27, 2011

Notebook: Haggan is excited to play new position and Miller impresses teammates early on.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Starting fresh seems to be the theme around the Denver Broncos training facility the first few post-lockout days.
With the new coaching staff installing a new playbook and new formations, players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, are changing positions at a rapid clip.
Yesterday, Robert Ayers talked about his excitement moving from linebacker to defensive end, and today, the defensive line got another new face in former linebacker Mario Haggan.
Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen is using a 4-3 formation instead of the 3-4 formation used the past two seasons, and that means Haggan will assume a near permanent role on the end. Haggan shouldn't have a tough time adjusting to the new position as he had his best success playing outside linebacker last year, including one game when he recorded three sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I kind of played in that situation on third down last year, basically, in the 3-4," Haggan said. "An outside linebacker, that's what it is, a defensive end. (In the offseason) I just tried to stay in shape, work my hands better, did some boxing things to try to help my hand speed and conditioning. Hopefully we can see results on the field."
Linebackers Coach Richard Smith raves about Haggan's ability to be effective at both the linebacker and defensive end positions, but believes Haggan can make a big impact on the defense with the move to the line.
"By taking him and moving him down, it upgrades our speed," Smith said in June. "I think that will be a very good competition at that position. Or in a role situation, where those defensive linemen have to roll in and out to keep them fresh. So I think he's in the right spot for our system."
Another new addition to the 2011 Broncos is rookie linebacker Von Miller. The second overall pick has had a few days to get to know players around the Dove Valley facility, and the team is excited to have him get onto the field.
Among those players is defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil, who missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, and Miller hope to give quarterbacks trouble as the Broncos essentially added two weapons that they didn't have last year.
"I'm excited," Dumervil said. "I've never had a sack guy opposite me in high school or college or the NFL. Von is a natural pass rusher and one thing you can't teach is a great motor. So you combine those things and I'm really excited for him because we have a great staff to put him in the right position."
Haggan worked out at the same facility as Miller a few times during the offseason and was as impressed by his demeanor as well as his physical abilities.
"Well Von is obviously a very humble guy," Haggan said. "It was fun meeting him, fun talking to him. I think he's athletic and will be a big asset to us."
At the podium Tuesday, Miller joked that he was Robin to Dumervil's Batman, but Dumervil rejected any notion that he and Miller weren't on the same level.
"He's a young guy, trying to come in and it shows you can still be humble," Dumervil said. "He can be Batman as well, I'm sure."
With the lockout lasting all through the summer and a new coaching staff in place, players haven't gotten the chance to get familiarized with the coaches and their systems and go through drills and routines that they would have done otherwise. Some people have used this as a means to say that the team will be disadvantaged, but the players aren't putting up with any excuses.
"We could put out excuses all day but I think the teams that are going to have the advantage are the teams who approach camp the right way mentally and physically," Dumervil said. "It's a mindset. We have to come out and take advantage of these next practices. We can't use any excuses."
However, there's no hiding the fact that rookies did not get a chance to formally practice in an NFL system during the offseason, so the players are expecting a few more bumps and hiccups than normal.
"Do you ever not see bad football from them?" safety Brian Dawkins joked. "It's going to happen anyway. Obviously, they haven't had the advantage of going through the mini camps and those things. Do I think mistakes will be made? Absolutely, because they always are made, probably a little more because they didn't have the opportunity to go through those camps."