ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Prior to Sunday night's game against New Orleans, 69.3 percent of rookie linebacker Danny Trevathan's snaps had come on special teams.
That changed significantly against the NFL's top-ranked passing attack, as he was on the field for 43 percent of the Broncos' defensive snaps. Trevathan performed well in his most extensive defensive action of the season, starting on the game's first series.
In coverage on the Saints Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham on quarterback Drew Brees' first third-down pass attempt of the game, the rookie from Kentucky dove to knock the ball to the grass and force a punt. The play showcased the speed and explosiveness that Trevathan has shown his teammates.
"Danny's a very explosive guy," linebacker Keith Brooking said. "You see that when you turn on the film and you watch him. He's quick. He's fast. There's a learning curve for all rookies. He makes mistakes out there, but when he makes them, he's making them going full speed. You see his playmaking ability when he gets the opportunity, so you've just got to keep moving forward, getting better. Keep studying the game, doing the little things that it takes to be a good pro, and he's going to be a really good football player."
More importantly, the play gave him a confidence boost that he was able to maintain throughout the game.
"It felt good," Trevathan said. "I feel like it kind of shaped the way the game was going to go. I felt like I could have intercepted it, like always. But to start the game off and to start me off, I felt like that was good."
During the game, one of Trevathan's responsibilities involved covering Graham. It was a tall order against a player who caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, but one Trevathan didn't shy away from.
"I take pride in covering," Trevathan said. "That's one of the things I kind of worked at the offseason. As applied out there, I think I played it well. I look to do more of that this year, depending on what the scheme is and what type of offenses we play. I'm just ready to go in whenever."
With linebacker Joe Mays being placed on injured reserve this week, it will be crucial that Trevathan continues to improve. After getting off to a strong start that has impressed Head Coach John Fox, further progress will be a matter of continuing to do what he has been doing.
"It's a young man's game, so you have to develop young talent in this league in those roles," Fox said. "Danny's another guy that was a highly productive player out of Kentucky in a very competitive league in college football and he's getting more and more comfortable with what that role is on our team. I've been impressed with his development."
As Trevathan's responsibilities within the Broncos defense could grow in the weeks to come, he's not feeling any pressure from what appears to be an increasing workload.
"I've just been trying to go out there and do what we've been practicing, and try to have fun within the scheme, try to have fun with those guys," Trevathan said. "So far it's going good, we just have to keep it strong and keep going."