In between, both had serious injuries, and since Dumervil tore his pectoral muscle last summer while Clady was recovering from a knee injury sustained whilst playing basketball, the two never matched up in training camp.
Having never faced each other in a weakened state, they’ve resumed their full-strength duel at training camp in recent days.
Clady’s health was a virtual non-issue; although he struggled to fully overcome the knee injury last year, he didn’t miss a game, leaving the only gap between himself and full strength an offseason to rest.
It wasn’t as clear for Dumervil, who couldn’t even run until February and had to rebuild his speed and strength in the five-plus months that followed. But his two-sack performance in Saturday’s scrimmage confirmed for the 17,982 fans on hand what Clady has seen for over a week in workouts: that Dumervil appears to be back.
“He’s pretty much the same player he was coming off the Pro Bowl year,” Clady said. “He’s been playing hard and he’s still got it.”
“He’s had a terrific camp,” added Broncos coach John Fox.
Dumervil provided two of the three sacks amassed by the first-team defense during three series against the second-team offense. The other came from No. 2 overall draftpick Von Miller, who has dubbed himself “Robin” to Dumervil’s “Batman.”
All of the sacks came at the expense of Tim Tebow, whose mobility didn’t compensate for the consistent collapse of the pocket led by Dumervil and Miller.
“It was a nice first impression; we just want to keep doing that,” Miller said.
The partnership between Miller and Dumervil was new, but the cheers for Dumervil were not — the old, familiar “Dooooooom” that rattled through the grandstands.
“It was my first time in this environment in a while: It felt great to come out and contribute to the team,” Dumervil said. “That’s what you miss most of all.”
It was also one of the first times Tebow had faced Dumervil and Miller together this summer; the vast majority of his snaps before Saturday came against the second- and third-team defenses.
The combination of the two pass rushers and a second-team offensive line left him stuck in the backfield, unable to escape.
“That is the most difficult thing for a quarterback,” Tebow said. “Having to deal with it — when they can drop back and play a soft Cover Two, drop the linebackers back, which is what they were doing, and they have two phenomenal pass rushers — you’re looking for your check down, you’re stepping up in the pocket very quickly.
“I know it’s frustrating because I wanted to at least get one ball thrown down the field today, and they made it difficult.”
The first question of the Dumervil-Miller partnership is whether they can cause the same kind of discomfort and pressure against first-teamers with more proven passing attacks — beginning against Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Thursday.
“It’s just a start,” Miller said. “Hopefully it will carry over.”