ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --In February, Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar minced no words when he discussed defensive end Adam Gotsis.
"Physically, I've told him all along: You've got to get bigger and stronger -- or else," Kollar said then. "These guys are too big and strong and tough in this league.
"I told him, 'If I were you, I'd take one week off after the season, I'd get my [rear end] into the weight room and I'd lift until there was no tomorrow. Because otherwise you don't have a chance. You've got to be able to get in there and fight."
According to teammates Derek Wolfe and Domata Peko, Gotsis has succeeded -- to the point where now his fellow defensive linemen call him "Little Wolfe."
"He's putting some weight on and he's getting stronger," Wolfe said. "You've just got to mature. He's a young kid still. He's just got to mature. As time goes on, he's starting to get it more and more."
Given that the hair-on-fire intensity of Wolfe is what Gotsis needs to succeed, that moniker says a lot about how far the 2016 draft pick has come this offseason.
"Just from hearing guys in the locker room, Adam's been a lot better," Peko said. "Just me seeing him right now, he seems like a whole different player than last year."
Gotsis could not practice until training camp last summer because of the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his senior season at Georgia Tech. Even though he played all 16 games, he acknowledged that the knee held him back throughout his rookie campaign.
The knee brace is off now. And while it will be another three months until he can show his skills in full-speed, full-contact work, the early signs are encouraging to his fellow defensive linemen.
The Broncos signed Peko and Zach Kerr in free agency and drafted Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker in the second round, but they need all hands on deck to put together a solid defensive-line rotation that keeps its players fresh. Having Gotsis live up to his second-round billing would give the Broncos a significant boost there.
"He's healthy, he's got that knee brace off, he's moving around," Peko said. "Now he's really strong."