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T.J. Ward excited for diverse role, sees more secondary improvement


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **When it comes to the Broncos' secondary, few teams—if any—were better in 2014. They ranked No. 1 in passing yards per play allowed, ranked No. 2 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus and three of the four starting members went to the Pro Bowl.

So in thinking about the coming season, getting even better would be quite impressive.

"We had a talented secondary, but it's all about gelling together. It was our first year playing together — it was the first year for a lot of guys on defense playing together. We're only going to be better," T.J. Ward said Thursday. "That cohesion is only going to come with time. I think the more that we play together, especially in the secondary, me, [CB Aqib] Talib, [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.] and whoever steps into that safety role, we're going to need that type of gelling. We're going to get better with time."

As they gained that cohesion in the first year as the season went on, after it concluded the Broncos then had to look to find a new part of the puzzle once Rahim Moore signed with the Houston Texans in free agency. Now the competition has included new safety Darian Stewart, veteran David Bruton and possibly even Bradley Roby, who could see time at the position as a cornerback.

Along with trying add a new starting piece into the fold to go with their coelescing talents, the group will also be part of a changing defensive scheme, from 4-3 to the 3-4. One of the benefits of this is freeing Ward to do what he does best.

"Now it's going to be more of a five-man front compared to a four-man front where I'm the fifth guy last year. Now I'll be the sixth guy," he said. "It takes a little bit of pressure off of me as far as having to take on blockers, offensive lineman and things like that. I'll be able to move around a little bit more. I think you'll see a lot more running and hitting from me compared to shedding guards."

The aggressiveness involved in the new defense has been perhaps the biggest focus in regards to the impact of a new defense, and that is a key advantage for Ward.

The possibility of bringing his speed, physicality and tackling skills to blitzing has made considerable conversation among Broncos media, and Ward said it's been something he and Wade have already talked about. At this point in the offseason program, the initial talks are the basis for what's to come.

"Right now, we're trying to start with the basics. We're just now getting into the blitz installs and sub packages," Ward said. "It's definitely more of a variety of what I am going to be allowed to do, so I'm excited about that."

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