ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Broncos defensive players are meeting their new defensive coordinator this week, and on Monday, linebacker Von Miller joked that Del Rio was "nicer than I thought." On Thursday, linebacker Joe Mays tempered that by saying he expects Del Rio's personality to change once he's on the field coaching the players.
"Just for now," Mays laughed about Miller's take on Del Rio. "Just for now, until we step out on that field, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a lot different. But I'm just looking forward to it. Everyone's excited about the Demaryius Thomas addition. I'm more excited about Jack Del Rio."
"More excited," he confirmed. "Because the sky's the limit for us as linebackers with him coming in. I think he's going to make things a lot easier on us. And even though he's going to want us to make a lot more plays, that's what we expect. We expect he'll have high expectations for us to go out there and play."
Mays said adding a defensive coordinator who used to be a linebacker in the NFL himself will be helpful for the entire defense, but especially the linebacker corps.
"He played in the league," Mays said. "You know what to expect. He expects a lot out of his linebackers on this team. I'm just looking forward to learning from him and doing whatever I can to help the team out. I'm going to enjoy it, definitely."
Cornerback Champ Bailey echoed Mays' thoughts about learning from a coordinator who used to play in the NFL.
"It's good to have a guy who has played the game," Bailey said on Monday. "He's been a head coach, and I know he's hungry as ever. It's going to be one of those things where we're going to get to know each other, starting today. We've kind of chatted a little bit. I know what he expects from me, and he knows what I expect from him."
DREESSEN BACK WITH HOMETOWN TEAM
Tight end Joel Dreessen, who became the 12th Bronco to play high school, college and professional football in Colorado grew up rooting for the Broncos.
"I was the biggest Broncos fan ever," Dreessen said. "I can't tell you how many times I threw the football up to myself in the back yard pretending I was John Elway. I did it so many times. I was a sophomore and junior in high school when they were winning the Super Bowl in '97 and '98, and I was skipping class to try to get down to Denver to go to the parades and all that. … I remember joking around saying, 'I'm going to be a Bronco someday. You wait and see,' and it came full-circle."
Now that Elway is his running the team's football operations, Dreessen knows that he has to work hard on the field being himself, not pretending to be Elway as he did growing up.
"I have to get over that real quickly, because I've got a job to do," he said. "I've got a whole new offense to learn, and I'm studying my tail of to get that squared away. I want to find another level to my career, and that was the big reason I left Texas. I want to find another level to myself and Mr. Elway and [QB] Peyton [Manning] and [Head] Coach [John] Fox. They have me believing in my opportunity here, and I'm going to work like hell to get better, to be the best I possibly can be."
MAYS LOOKS TO 'BE BETTER'
Despite signing a new contract with the Broncos this offseason, Mays wants to continue to improve in the 2012 season. He says that he reads what his critics say about him, and hopes to give them less to write about this season.
"I missed too many tackles last season," Mays said. "You guys saw it, the fans saw it, I read all about it on the Internet."
"You know being a football player, you're always self-motivated anyway," Mays continued. "You know what you did wrong. You know what you did good. You know the things that you need to work on. But to go on the Internet and see that and see how the fans view you, you just don't want anyone speaking like that of you. So, I'm just going to make sure that I do whatever I can to get better."
While he ignores the outside critics during the season, he says he does notice it during the offseason.
"During the offseason is when you really get a chance to see it and see how people really feel about you, really think of you," he said. "Some things you like, some things you really don't like, but it's the truth. You're going to have to step your game up and do whatever you can so you can wipe some of that stuff off the Internet and try to get the fans behind you.
"So, that's my plan for this year. I'm going to definitely be better."