ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --When defensive tackle Justin Bannan first signed with the Broncos in 2010, he said he felt like he was coming home.
On Wednesday, the former University of Colorado Buffalo said the feeling remains the same the second time around.
"I have a lot of pride here," Bannan said. "I feel like I belong here. It's hard to explain — I kind of felt like that when I played at CU (University of Colorado). I feel like I belong in Colorado. It's nice to be able to have an opportunity to come back and have a chance to be part of something great."
In his one season in Denver, Bannan started 16 games, notching 35 tackles along with one sack, four pass breakups and one forced fumble -- but the Broncos won just four games.
Last year in St. Louis, Bannan started 14 games and made 32 tackles as the Rams won two contests.
"It's definitely no fun losing, especially coming from Baltimore and I was in the playoffs three out of the four years I was there," he said. "All you can do is show up, go to work and do the best you can."
Now the 11th year veteran is ready to do his part to get back to winning.
"I feel great -- I feel just like I did when I came in the first time," he said. "I think for me, I definitely feel like I'm on a mission. I'm definitely hungry. I want to win. I want to be on a great team and I want to do my part. I'm more than motivated this year to prove to the new guys that are there what I'm all about."
Bannan said he's excited about the defense he's joining this season, particularly now that he will get to play alongside Elvis Dumervil, who missed the 2010 season with a pectoral injury, and Von Miller, who Bannan called "a phenom."
But there's a player on the offensive side of the ball that has him even more ready to put on his jersey -- quarterback Peyton Manning.
"He's definitely, without a doubt the hardest player I've ever played against, bar none," Bannan said, calling playing with Manning "a blessing." "The guy can play a defense like no other. He knows exactly what he's doing. He knows what checks to make, he knows your weaknesses every time. It really is a chess match. Even when I was in Baltimore, we just called him 'The Baltimore Killer,' because he was the only guy that could literally take a defense down and pick us apart. He could methodically do it. To me, he's the greatest player I've ever played around or played against in my career."
Even with such a positive atmosphere around the team heading into the 2012 campaign, Bannan said it's up to the team to make sure those expectations turn into results on the field.
"At the end of the day, none of that matters unless we put in the work," he said. "I think the mindset in the building right now is everybody kind of knows what's going on. Now we've got to put in the work and we've got to pull together and we've got to have a great team."