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Gameday Online: Haggan Q&A

Posted Sep 7, 2011

Linebacker Mario Haggan talks about Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen and following up a career year on the field last season.

Last year was a career year for linebacker Mario Haggan. He registered 75 tackles and five sacks on the season, both of which were personal bests. He comes back for his ninth season - fourth with the Broncos - hoping to build off last year's success as he could play a multipurpose role in Denver's new defensive scheme. He sat down for an exclusive Q&A that appeared in the August 20th Gameday program.
How was training camp after the extended offseason?
"I think it (went) well. The first couple of days you could tell guys had to knock the rust off. We were a little behind the 8-ball in learning the system but I think guys honed in mentally and locked in with what we needed to know."
How has it been working with Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen?
"It's been fun. He's fiery, he's young, he's energetic. I know that's cliché, but he shows it in meeting rooms. He talks to us energetically. And the thing is, he doesn't say, 'We want to be a great defense,' he says, 'We're going to be a great defense.' He said, 'We're going to practice like a great defense.' And he comes in - no matter if you're Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey or Nate Irving - he comes in and talks to you and he points out the mistakes the same way."
What does that kind of attitude do for your defense?
"It's always a positive outlook when a coach shows he has confidence and he's fired up and he understands that all he has to do is get us on the same page. Everybody knows it's vice versa - players are only as good as the coach and the coach is only as good as the players. So if we work together and be great then we'll all be together for a long time."
Are you excited at the possibility of playing a little on the defensive line?
"I'm excited to play football wherever I'm being asked. Being a defensive end was going to be a new task for me but nothing that I was going to run from. But I'm back at linebacker right now and I feel at home. I feel like I'm making plays and it's fun to me. It's always better when you know what you're doing and all you have to do is pick up the system and do it the way they want. I would've been pleased either way and worked hard either way. It wouldn't have been a problem either."
What's the energy and feel in the defensive unit heading into this fall?
"It's a positive. We understand with Coach Allen that he's won a Super Bowl. We want to show fans that some of the things that happened, this team is not going away. We have more talent than people give us credit for. All we got to do is figure out a way to put it out there on gameday. We're working, we're fresh, we had a lot of time off unfortunately due to the CBA, but we're back and here for football and football only."
What are your personal goals for this season?
"I think being a champion would sum it all up. If I could be a champion at the end of the year, all my goals will be met."
What do you attribute your career year in 2010 to and how do you build off it?
"Just hard work and trying to be accountable each and every Sunday, each and every day in practice. And nothing has changed. Obviously I'm here and I have a role. That role is yet to be determined - that is what we have games for. But no matter what my role is, I'm going to approach it the same way, try to be accountable when my number is called."
Tonight's game is against Buffalo, the team that drafted you. What's it like playing against a former team?
"Right now the first game will mean a lot. But when we play them again (in December) that will mean just a little bit more. But it's always a deal where you want to go out there and show - because some of the same people that were in management or that coached me are still there - and I want to show them what they missed out on. Anytime you get away from a team it's because they released you or they didn't extend the contract. As a player, you should always take offense to that and that's the way I approach it. It'll be a game for me just like any other, but I just want to tattoo a couple of those guys, make big plays and let them know Haggan is still on a jersey in the NFL."
You open the season on Monday Night Football against the Raiders. Is there any talk amongst the guys at the importance of that game?
"We're so deep trying to get the playbook down and prepare for the first preseason game so that we can be willing and ready for the first Monday night. I don't think anybody's really thought about the fact that we open up on Monday night. But I'm sure as the season nears, and that time comes, you'll feel the energy in the air and you'll start to see the players get more excited."
How would you describe your style of leadership?
"Just work. Especially when guys don't know you, when coaches don't know you, they want to see what you do more than hear what you do. So that's what I try to do. I'm a talkative guy and my thing is that I try to do both. I talk about it and I go out there and practice hard. Every day is not the easiest, every day is not the best, but every day I give a great effort. Lead by example is how I try to do it."