ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Linebacker Danny Trevathan is used to being questioned, criticized and undervalued. A sixth-round pick out of Kentucky in the 2012 draft, many outsiders didn't expect the "undersized" linebacker to make it out of camp.
He did make it out of camp. He went on to play in every game his rookie year.
But last season was his true breakout campaign as he led the team with 125 tackles and started every game. Though many people are, he isn't surprised by his success.
"It's expected by me," Trevathan said. "I always expect to come in, once I get a feel for things, I can fly around and I can be the best player out there, especially playing with great group of guys that I did so I can definitely play really good within this scheme."
Former Broncos linebacker and captain Wesley Woodyard, who signed with the Titans in free agency, was a key factor in Trevathan's rapid development. Trevathan said he learned a lot from Woodyard and he taught him how to be a leader. Woodyard also went to Kentucky and went undrafted. The two, both considered by many to be undersized and potentially not NFL material, formed a bond.
Without Woodyard lining up next to him, Trevathan said his role has grown and that it's now his responsibility to make sure the team gets back to the Super Bowl.
Trevathan is the ultimate underdog. But he is a work-horse and refuses to listen to those who have said he wouldn't succeed in the NFL. In fact, when people call him undersized, he feeds off of it and it pushes him to be better.
"It's always somebody saying you can't do something in life," Trevathan said. "You always want to overcome those things. I have been fortunate enough to been put in a situation where I have the opportunity where I can. It's my job to make the most of it. Since I came in league, since I started playing football, they said, he can't do this and that. It's always been something I can't do."
During the 2013 season, he certainly showed critics what he can do. He was one of the defense's most consistent assets and proved to be an every-down linebacker. With 125 tackles, his ability to defend the run and drop into coverage became an asset for the defense.
As Trevathan heads into the offseason, he is going to continue improving. He said that if you're a hard worker, there is no offseason.
"There's no such thing as an offseason so you want to take that time to work at things, get your body right, work at things where you messed up, watching film, getting a little bit better," Trevathan said. "Take the time to reassure yourself that you can play at this level. It's hard to do it year in and year out, but the best have to do it."
That work ethic has helped him defy the odds and become a key playmaker on the defense. Now that he has gone the distance to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL, he is ready to prove people wrong again and take the Broncos back to the Super Bowl. The last team to lose the Super Bowl and go back the next season and win was the 1972 Miami Dolphins. He emphasized the importance of practice to make that goal a reality.
"We just need to continue playing and grow as a team," Trevathan said. "We've got high expectations. Practice will always get you there to where you need to be, as long as you take practice seriously."