Broncos linebackers applaud choice of coordinator
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Wesley Woodyard and Robert Ayers were taken aback by the hasty departure of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in mid-January.
However, the two young linebackers said Thursday that their emotions gave way to elation when the Denver Broncos promoted linebackers coach Don Martindale to defensive coordinator. Nolan left to accept a similar position with the Miami Dolphins.
“They couldn’t have made a better choice because he (Martindale) is a player’s coach, who gets pretty loud, but in a good way,” Ayers said. “He knows when to talk to you and when to yell at you.”
Martindale left a lasting impression during an interview prior to last year’s draft.
“He told me don’t expect to come here and be an average player and play five or six years,” Ayers said. “He expected me to be a great player and be a dominant force in the NFL.”
Neither Woodyard, a third-year inside linebacker, nor Ayers, a second-year outside linebacker, anticipated a change of scheme from the 3-4 alignment installed by Nolan.
“We haven’t gotten into the schemes about what we are going to do,” Woodyard said. “I’m sure we are still going to run a 3-4.”
And they hadn’t heard of any changes brought on by the release of veterans like starting inside linebacker Andra Davis. The team hinted that Mario Haggan would fill the void left by Davis on the inside, leaving a spot on the inside for Ayers, who made one start in 2009.
“I don’t know the real reasons for the moves that were made upstairs,” Ayers said. “Regardless of who was on the team, I was planning on working to get better, improve my strengths and erase my weaknesses to become a complete player.”
Woodyard will continue to be a situational player on defense and a key figure on special teams. He was voted a special teams captain a year ago.
“I am a team player,” Woodyard said. “I will accept my role no matter what it is.”
Martindale asked him to bulk up slightly in the offseason. Woodyard will play at 235 pounds instead of 228 this year.
The Broncos are in the second day of their voluntary offseason conditioning program.