ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On Monday night, linebacker Keith Brooking will return to the Georgia Dome, where he spent more than a decade of his NFL career playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
Brooking grew up near Atlanta as well, attending high school in a Georgia town called Senoia about 40 minutes from the stadium.
He then played four seasons of college ball for Georgia Tech, a school located in the heart of Atlanta.
"It's home," Brooking said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I have all my family and close friends coming to the game. It will be fun to play in front of them one last time there at the Georgia Dome, where it all started."
After his four years at Tech, he was the all-time leading tackler in school history, which eventually put him in the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame.
His first 11 years in the NFL were spent with the Atlanta Falcons, accruing five Pro Bowl seasons while leading the team in tackles in eight consecutive years.
Brooking said there aren't many players remaining on the Falcons' roster that were there when he left the team in 2008, which was quarterback Matt Ryan's rookie year. Atlanta center Todd McClure is the one Falcon whom Brooking said he's been communicating with throughout the week via text.
But Brooking also spent a year under Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith, and remembers how well-prepared his team is on gameday. He said he'll share some of that with the rest of the Broncos.
"I know his mentality," Brooking said. "I know what he's telling those guys and we need to jump on them in the beginning. It's a tough test. They're a very good football team."
While the majority of the roster and coaching staff has changed, the 15th-year linebacker knows the energy in the Georgia Dome likely hasn't.
Monday night will be the Falcons' home-opener, and with the game being played on the NFL's brightest stage, it's a dangerous combination for a road team.
"It's going to be very important for us in the beginning of that game, to hopefully try to take their crowd out of it because they create a great atmosphere and it poses some problems for the opposing offense," Brooking said.
But with an 11-time Pro Bowler at the helm in quarterback Peyton Manning, Brooking believes Denver's offense will handle the challenge.
"The one good thing we have on our side is No. 18," Brooking said. "He's running the show for our offense and he's played in some hostile environments. I don't think it will rattle him or our offense. But at the end of the day it will be very important for us to set the tone in that football game."
Though it will be "an emotional time" for the Broncos linebacker, Brooking said he will maintain his focus on doing whatever he can to help the team. He played in 14 total snaps in Week 1, but another full week of practice under his belt could have him fit for some more playing time.
"I have a responsibility to do a job for my football team," he said. "It's a true test for us and I have a really good feeling we're going to react the right way."