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Defense's intelligence, depth create options for Wade Phillips


The Denver Broncos take the field at UCHealth Training Center for their fifth day of camp.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **With three out of four players in the Broncos secondary returning from Pro Bowl seasons, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has a lot of talent to work with, but it's those players' intelligence, savvy and competitive fire that make them great fits for what Phillips wants to do.

Phillips' intention to unleash the defense's natural aggression is widely known following his initial press conference in February, but exactly how he's going to do it is an unknown, especially because he has the options to do it in many ways.

"We play a lot of man in places where we have man corners," Phillips said. "We're going to be a pressure defense. Now if it's pressure out of the zone and zone blitzes or pressure out of man and man blitzes, that's what you try to decide. Now it looks like we can have a combination."

What separates them from other teams in their ability to utilize a combination, Phillips says, is the players' intellect.

"These guys are, I think, pretty sharp and so some teams can't go from a lot of man to zone, or zone to man, because they [lose] the concepts... and it takes a lot of work and ability, but I'm hoping and it looks like we'll be able to do both."

With the Pro Bowl talent in the secondary, the intelligence, experience and communication is key from sideline to sideline.

"They're real smart, they're very competitive," Phillips added. "I think those two things, besides the ability they have, has made them as good as they are. You can have 10 Pro Bowlers coming back, you've still got to all know what you're doing [and] communicate well."

As inside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan work their way back from injuries, they bring with them heaps of talent and a level of communication that adds to it.

"We communicate well together," Marshall said on Saturday. "We know each other well. So, it's actually pretty easy to have him in there. I don't really have to sit there and tell him what to do. He knows what to do and we just feed off each other."

That communication is something Phillips appreciates, but so is their talent. He also mentioned how Trevathan and Marshall each led the team in tackles in the past two years.

The Denver Broncos take the field at UCHealth Training Center for their second day in full pads.

As Marshall and Trevathan are cautiously eased back into action, Phillips is getting a long look at the depth behind them, and they've made quite the impression upon the 38-year NFL coaching veteran.

"Our backup group is probably the best I've ever had," Phillips said, "and I think a lot of those guys can play and have played well in practice."

Between the defense's depth and the talent of its top players, Phillips has plenty of confidence that it will be able to give opposing offenses a multitude of challenging looks that few others can.

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