ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Safeties and cornerbacks might be grouped together under the secondary umbrella, but that doesn’t mean the responsibilities or even the required abilities are the same.
Cornerbacks are isolated -- out on the edges, matched up with receivers one-on-one – with their mistakes immediately evidenced by a wide open target.
Safeties on the other hand are watching the offense perched atop the whole defense and are responsible for much of the communication.
“It’s a big adjustment,” Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said during minicamp. “If you just look at it, we’re completely different in terms of how we implement our system, what we ask our guys to do. The language is different. And then, rather than looking across from a guy, he’s really scanning on top of the whole defense. He’s more of a quarterback of the defense at safety and needs to be the main communicator. There’s a lot more to learn and it’s not an easy transition.”
And while he’s not making a change as dramatic as Jammer,
Both Garnes and Secondary Coach Cory Undlin agree that versatility like that offers additional depth to an already deep secondary.
“(That is) huge,” Undlin said. “It just gives you more options. If you play different packages, guys can slide around. Quentin’s kind of learning a new spot, but he understands the game and he knows how to do it. We’re going to try to help him play safety, but you get into the season and you lose someone with an injury at any position, it’s huge to have someone to fill in.
“And then you have Chris who’s played all three spots and has played them at a high level. Anytime you have players who can do that, it’s very valuable.”
Del Rio said in minicamp that the way offenses around the league consistently utilize three, four and even five receivers puts a premium on defensive backs – like Jammer and Harris – that have coverage skills and experience.
Jammer played safety in his time at Texas before he spent 11 seasons at cornerback in San Diego. When he signed with the Broncos in May he said that he doesn’t label himself as a corner, but rather a football player and he could play anywhere on defense except with the “big hosses” up front.
“I think being a versatile player has become a staple in this league,” Jammer said in May after he signed with the Broncos. “I think it’s becoming more popular, a guy who can move to multiple positions. I think one of the guys who made that transition, who brought it along, was Rod Woodson. Then Charles Woodson had great success with it.
“I think I’m that type of player, where I can come in. I can cover safety, I can cover wide receivers, I can pretty much cover anybody on the field. I’ve been doing it for 11 years. Why stop now?”