ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- From 1993-96, Linebackers Coach Richard Smith led the Broncos special teams and linebackers groups.
In 2011, Smith returned to the franchise, following Head Coach John Fox to Denver from Carolina where he had coached the Panthers' linebackers from 2009-10.
Back in the Mile High City coaching alongside one of his former pupils, Smith is entering his 25th season as an NFL coach in 2012.
His linebacker group includes the reigning Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year in linebacker Von Miller. The linebacking corps was essential to Denver's defensive turnaround in 2011 in which the club allowed five fewer points per game (24.4) than the year before and posted the most sacks (41) in 11 seasons.
Smith sat down with DenverBroncos.com to talk about what he expects from Miller in 2012, what it's like coaching under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and the importance of versatility for a linebacker.
What is it like coaching under Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio?
"The players respect Coach Del Rio quite a bit because not only has he played in the league, he's been a head football coach. He handles them extremely well. I've been around for quite a long time where I can see that they really respect him. His personality and his demeanor have been outstanding for the group. There's a great deal of respect for him because of what he has accomplished as a player and also as a head football coach. He's extremely well-respected once he walks into that room."
What are you looking for out of Von Miller this season?
"Von last year had a good year. But we're looking for bigger and better things out of him this year. Through OTAs and minicamp, he's done a really nice job with picking up the defense. Also when you look at his body, it has really developed. He is much bigger, much stronger. Any time you're a second year player, you're a year into it, a little more mature then he was a year ago. He understands what's expected of him and to this point he has done a really nice job."
Why was it important to re-sign Joe Mays
"We were really happy to get Joe back. He has a very physical presence on the inside. We've helped ourselves out with our front seven people and then our defensive linemen, by drafting Derek Wolfe and also Ty Warren coming back and if he can stay healthy, I think that group will be better up front. I think Joe's done a great job as a leader of the group. In terms of directing the front, he sets the front, the mechanics. Joe had a good year last year and we're hoping that he can continue to get better and have a better year this year."
Why is it especially important for a linebacker to be able to play all three linebacker positions as well as special teams?
"That's extremely important. Everybody has different roles on your football team. If you're not a starter, then what is your role? If you're not a starter then you have to be a special teams player. Also any time you can play dual positions it makes you that much more valuable to this football team."
What impressed you with Danny Trevathan's college film?
"First of all, Danny is a great human being. He's very instinctive. He's very quick. He's got good speed and I think he's got a chance to be pretty good. He has natural ball skills. He'll be a good addition to our group."