ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Even though he lines up in the most crowded part of the field, first-year defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has always been hard to ignore.
Standing 6-2 and weighing more than 300 pounds, it didn't take Siliga long to draw his teammates' attention after joining the team's practice squad in Week 6 of the 2011 season.
"Man, he's a big dude," veteran defensive end Jason Hunter said of Siliga. "He has great leverage. He just enjoys the game. He goes out there and plays hard. He's still learning and trying to work it all out, but he's doing well. You definitely noticed some things that he was doing well when he was on the practice squad, how he was dominant out there."
This offseason, Siliga is taking steps to show that he can be more than just a practice-squad player. His efforts thus far have earned him praise from Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio and reps with the first-team defensive line during OTAs and minicamp.
While Del Rio admitted it's easier to assess defensive linemen once the pads are on during training camp, he likes what he sees from the young tackle.
"He's a guy that can give us a little bit of a presence in there, eat up blocks and give us a little bit of a push in the middle," Del Rio said. "His demeanor is excellent. He participated in the rookie minicamp. Everything we've asked of him in terms of weight room, conditioning, studying and then work on the field, I think he's been really good. Our hope is we can bring a guy along like that, develop him and have him blossom for us."
Originally an undrafted free agent signing by the San Francisco 49ers, Siliga began making a name for himself at the University of Utah.
There, he played three seasons on the defensive line, including an undefeated 2008 campaign, which culminated in a Sugar Bowl appearance.
That bowl game, the first of his career, is still one of his fondest memories. His undefeated Utes squared off with 12-1 Alabama in the game in New Orleans. Utah went up 21-0 in the first quarter, and Siliga couldn't wipe the smile off his face when asked about his memory of that game.
Because Bama's rally fell short in a 37-21 loss, Siliga is able to look back and laugh about one of the most "embarrassing" moments of his career. With his Utes leading 21-3 in the second quarter, Siliga admits "I got shook, bad" on a juke move by Alabama defensive back Javier Arenas, who returned the punt 73 yards for a touchdown.
The Utes' front seven sacked Alabama eight times that night and held Tide running back Glen Coffee to just 36 yards rushing on 13 carries. Among Siliga's teammates that evening were current Baltimore Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger, Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi and Broncos guard Zane Beadles.
Siliga says he has enjoyed reuniting with his college buddy in Denver.
"It's going good," Siliga said. "It's cool just to actually play with him every day, and against him as well. It's going great. It's cool to have another person that went to my college playing on the same pro team with me in a different state."
A former high school power lifter, Siliga won Utah state competitions as an 18-year old, power-cleaning 320 pounds and dead lifting 700. That background has proved beneficial at a position where strength is crucial.
"It was like wow, look how he's moving guys," Hunter said of his first impression of Siliga. "You see how he works in the weight room. He works hard and does the things that you ask him to do. He plays at a high level. He's definitely a great addition to our team and I'm glad he's out there doing well. I'm happy for him."
Throughout this offseason, Siliga has continued to show off his strength while also working to improve his moves as a pass rusher. While he said he enjoys playing against the run and pass equally, he admitted he has room to grow as a pass rusher.
"Sometimes I feel like a defensive end," he laughed. "I'm still learning how to get my pass rush better, like Elvis and them."
"I'm excited because right around the corner is training camp," Siliga said. "I'm going to come out in training camp and give it my best, keep trying to help this team get better."
When asked who stood out to him during OTAs, Dumervil singled out Siliga and said he looks forward to seeing No. 98 in full pads.
"I think Sealver is doing a tremendous job for us," Dumervil said. "So hopefully he comes back and maintains his progress."