ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase says Aqib Talib was the toughest cornerback that the Broncos faced last season. According to Gase, he gave wide receiver Demaryius Thomas "everything he could handle" during the Broncos-Patriots Week 12 matchup.
Talib is still covering Thomas. This time, he's only facing him in practice.
"DT took me deep a couple times, him and Peyton [Manning]," Talib said of recent OTA practices. "It's good work. It's great work going out there with them. That's going to do nothing but get me ready for the season."
Talib said he's had his hands full during OTAs, covering the big, physical Thomas and then the short, quick Emmanuel Sanders on the next play. But Talib loves the competition and the opportunity to match up against the best receivers.
"Anytime I get a chance to be 'mano a mano' with somebody, it's all competition, man," Talib said. "I love it."
His former Patriots teammate Wes Welker said his length and athletic ability make him really tough to play against."He's a confident guy," Welker said. "I don't want to say scrappy, just because he's kind of a bigger guy. He mixes it up pretty well out there and I think he intimidates a lot of guys with his size and does a great job of transitioning as well for as tall as he is."
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said the base defense is about 75 percent installed and the coaches are giving the players a lot of information to learn right now. According to Del Rio, "there are a lot of heads spinning."
As OTA practices progress, the corners are working on their communication, according to Talib.
"We've put a lot of work in the classroom and coming out here trying to translate it to the grass," Talib said. "The biggest thing is just knowing where the other guys is. You kind of know what you're supposed to do, but it's more than knowing what you're supposed to do. You have to know where everybody else is so you know how to do your job a little bit better. That's kind of the phase we're in right now."
Talib said he and the young corners are learning together and trying to get better every day. Even though he is new to the team, being a leader wasn't difficult for Talib once he became comfortable. Being vocal and leading his younger teammates comes naturally to him.
"He's a good communicator," Del Rio said. "So he's been terrific in the meetings with some of the younger players. I think Aqib is a veteran guy who understands what he wants now for himself and for the team. He's working hard, he's come here, been a good teammate and learning our system. I think clearly he's a physical corner and a guy who's very capable of shutting down some of the top wide receivers that we'll face."