ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –For nine seasons, 2003-11, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio was the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was his first crack at being a head coach.
Last season, he joined the Broncos as the defensive coordinator and Sunday will be his first crack at his former team.
"It was an honor to be the head coach there," Del Rio said Thursday. "It was a terrific place to raise my family, to live and to be the head coach – a lot of great memories. (I'm) very grateful for (former Jaguars owner) Mr. (Wayne) Weaver for giving me that opportunity back then and just very appreciative of all that. Now, it's moved on. I'm here in Denver. I enjoy doing what I do, and that is helping this defense be as good as it can be and helping this football team win games. That's what I'm after right now."
Coming off a game in which the defense gave up the most points it had all season, all of Del Rio's focus is on making improvements from last week's performance.
He added that the game with the Cowboys was behind them and they were focused on the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew, Cecil Shorts III, Justin Blackmon and company.
"It's an opportunity to get our sixth win," Del Rio said. "That's really what we're after. Sunday can't get here quick enough. I feel like defensively we've got a lot of work to do. We know we're capable of playing a lot better. We need to play a lot better for our football team. So we've been focused on being better and understanding what Jacksonville wants to be about, what they like to do, and getting ourselves prepared to play."
In Week 1 of this season, linebacker Danny Trevathan made his first career interception. He picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and made his way toward the end zone for what would have been his first career touchdown.
Instead, he fumbled the ball on the one and gave the ball back to the Ravens.
Del Rio was asked he had given Trevathan some grief for the incident
"I was encouraging him," Del Rio smiled.
That encouragement must have paid off as Trevathan came up with the defensive play of the game in Dallas with his second interception of the year. This time, he held on to the ball and allowed the Broncos to score the game-winning points with a Matt Prater field goal just a few plays later.
Del Rio credited Trevathan's growth to his rising level of confidence.
"I think he's starting to play faster," Del Rio said. "He is fast. I think he's more certain of his reads and where he belongs. He's a guy that has great instinct for the position. Kind of like Malik (Jackson), kind of like Duke (Ihenacho), these younger players that are growing in our system – the second year, they understand it better, where they belong. They can cut loose and really play, play with confidence.
"I see a more confident guy right there in Danny and hopefully he'll continue to grow and develop as we go through this year, and play better and better."
Woodyard's Important Role
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard injured his neck in Dallas and left the game in the second quarter. He did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday as the team prepares for the Jaguars.
Woodyard is tied for the team lead in total tackles with Danny Trevathan as they both have 35 in the first five games of the season. Woodyard also leads the team in quarterback hits with seven.
"He's one of our leaders, so when you lose a leader, that takes something away from you," Del Rio said. "We've worked hard to make sure we're able to overcome those things and address some of the things that maybe came up, make sure that the communication is sound and tight. And that's just one aspect."
Del Rio referenced the next man up mentality necessary in the game of football and that should Woodyard be unavailable against the Jaguars, Paris Lenon – who the Broncos acquired as a free agent in August – would be one of the next up.
Lenon has made a pair of special teams tackles this year for the Bronco after coming into the season with 612 tackles, 12 sacks, five picks and 10 forced fumbles in his 12-year career.
"He's got run-and-hit ability, played a thousand snaps or more last year in Arizona," Del Rio said of Lenon. "He's been a starter all his life. (He's a) very, very capable guy that – if it ends up being that Wesley can't go, then Paris will definitely play a bunch."