ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The defense is simpler, but the job description for the Broncos’ complement of safeties under coordinator Wade Phillips is a bit different than it was last year.
Their job will not only involve coverage assistance to the cornerbacks — it will be to attack. With Pro Bowlers Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib set to be left “on an island” more this year than in previous years, the Broncos’ safeties can be more disruptive in the middle of the field.
“Everybody else is going to be a lot more aggressive,” Harris said in April. That starts with returning Pro Bowler T.J. Ward and free-agent pickup Darian Stewart, who spent most of OTAs working together to build cohesion — and positional flexibility.
“He’s able to play the ball in the air and I’m able to play down in the box, so we just switch it up — we’re interchangeable,” said Stewart. Being able to transpose Ward and Stewart is just the beginning of myriad possibilities for the safeties. The alignments may not be as static as they were in previous years.
The potential for cornerback Bradley Roby to see some snaps at safety in certain packages could also affect the number of spots that go to safeties, and Phillips said during OTAs that there is a package that gets Roby in at one of the safety positions. But it will not be his primary spot.
“He’s pretty proficient at cornerback, so I’m pleased with that,” Phillips said May 29. “And that’s what we wanted, to make sure he could play that position and be really good at that, and then if we play three corners coming in where he’ll play some safety.
” … We’ve got three corners that can play, and if we need to move him into a certain package, we will, and we’ll do that later on.”