Broncos’ Lang deals with demotion
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Kenard Lang is sinking in the depth chart. His spirits remain sky-high.
Lang, who started all 16 games for the Denver Broncos last season after Courtney Brown got hurt in training camp, insisted he wasn’t bothered on draft day when the Broncos selected defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder with their top two picks.
“The main thing is I want to see young guys succeed. I’m happy for them. I know they’re going to make us a better team,” Lang said.
He’s maintained his upbeat attitude at training camp even though he’s listed as the third-stringer at left end behind John Engelberger and Crowder in an abundant field of 16 linemen fighting for probably eight roster spots.
“I don’t worry about it. What it is is what it is,” Lang said. “I tell everybody football is a part of my life, not my life.”
That doesn’t mean at 32 he’s ready to hang up his cleats and do something else.
“I’m still running good and moving fast,” he said. “So, I want to keep playing.”
And he wants to stay in Denver.
The 11th-year pro who also played in Cleveland and Washington sees himself as the leader of the line, so he’s constantly giving advice to the rookies who may end up taking his job in a few weeks.
“I don’t have no animosity, I don’t have no bitterness,” Lang said. “Because I feel if you do that, you’re only taking away from the team … because you’re wishing bad on him by not telling him the truth. So, I tell him the truth, make him better, make the team better and go from there.”
Moss and Crowder have said they appreciate Lang’s willingness to share secrets, and his unselfish attitude has won him points with the coaching staff.
In one area, Lang’s letting his play to the talking.
He’s trying to move back up the depth chart but won’t lobby for it through his words.
“When you play, you’ve got to show that you shouldn’t be there” with the backups, he said. “That’s the way I look at it. So, you’re going against the second- and third-team? You should stand out. And if you stand out, they’ll notice you and you’ll get your chance.”
Training camp is usually a grind for the veterans. Not for Lang, who sees it as a proving ground.
“But I’ve never had a problem with the preseason. I always go out there and play hard just like it’s the regular season anyway,” he said.
Lang said he didn’t have any veterans looking out for him when he started for the Redskins as a first-round rookie in 1997.
“Nobody took me under their wing. That’s one thing I’d say I really lacked,” Lang said. “When I got there, the other starting defensive end I ended up beating out and they released him and the defensive end on the other side was Richie Owens, who was in his second or third year and he was still learning himself.”
Four years into his career, Marco Coleman went to Washington and Lang finally had a mentor.
“He was the one that really helped me out, taught me how to play like a pro,” said Lang, who modeled Coleman’s work ethic on the field and also in the weight room.
“I can honestly say that working out and staying in shape is what’s kept me playing now,” Lang said.
Now, it’s Lang who is doling out the advice, knowing that those taking heed might very well put a premature end to his stay in Denver.
“That’s just me,” he said. “That’s just my personality, that’s my faith.”