Dressed in their Sunday best -- well, practice uniforms -- the Broncos put in work on Day 4 of training camp. (photos by Gabriel Christus unless noted)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — DeMarcus, meet DeMarcus.
Rookie defensive end DeMarcus Walker on Sunday morning received a surprise message from DeMarcus Ware, the recently retired pass-rushing legend, just in time for his first practice working with the outside linebackers, who are feeling the pinch after Shane Ray joined Shaquil Barrett among the injured edge rushers in training camp.
Walker's combination of size and speed gives Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods a versatile piece to move around, and on Sunday, he took the rookie's hand out of the dirt, moved him to the edge and gave him a different look from his usual alignment.
"The thing we like about DeMarcus is that he has a lot of versatility," Woods said. "Right now everything's fluid, but we're trying to move him around a little bit just in terms of playing the D-line and playing a little bit of outside linebacker. He's a unique player just in terms of what he's able to do."
"… What we're looking for him to do is execute his responsibilities. Obviously we put pads on to play physical to show that he can D-style inside and to see his versatility, we move him outside to 'backer."
The speedy defensive end did gain some experience in both positions in college and high school and gathered a working knowledge of how he must adjust his positioning on the line for either spot. From an inside-rushing position, Walker said opponents usually protected against him using a technique in which linemen aggressively engage defenders to prevent them from gaining momentum.
"For me, when I was inside, I had to back off the ball because I get a lot of jump sets because of my speed," Walker said, "[but] on the end, you can crowd the line a little bit because you're at end and they can't really jump you or they're going to lose inside. So those are the biggest two things I had to pick up on this type of level right here. So far so good, I'm picking it up. I've just got to get better every single day.
It may seem like there's a lot on Walker's plate, but he's handling the added responsibilities with confidence.
"You just have to mature," Walker said, "just think about what's in the moment. I'm picking up those type of skills from Von. I'm actually just having fun with it. That's the best thing about it, just having fun and taking it one day at a time."
It also doesn't hurt to have Ware, Derek Wolfe and, of course, Von Miller on your side, as Walker has discovered.
"It's a blessing, to be honest with you," Walker said. "[Miller is] the best for a reason, so whenever he talks, I always ask him questions on that stuff and he always gives me input."
With that kind of guidance, Walker will be set up for success regardless of where he lines up on the field.