ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – When a Broncos fan says, “Von,” he or she is referring to one of the most crucial players on the defense.
Of course, they could mean “Vaughn” and be just as correct.
Their names are what linguists would call “homophones” — same pronunciation, different spelling, different meaning. But on passing downs, what Von Miller does could end up forcing a pass into Cassius Vaughn’s territory, and whether the second-year cornerback can react fast enough could determine the eventual success or failure of the series.
Vaughn’s rise to first-team nickelback has been one of the quieter Broncos stories of the last month, but one of the more important ones. In a three-way competition among second-year cornerbacks Vaughn, Syd’Quan Thompson and Perrish Cox, the undrafted Vaughn proved the steadiest, most reliable option.
For this, he credits the work he was able to do at the Brian Dawkins-led workouts while the lockout lingered. The sessions kept Vaughn on a schedule, which he feels made the difference in his training-camp work.
“Brian Dawkins and Joe Mays were probably the biggest factors in me becoming the player that I am now,” Vaughn said, “because they gave me the work ethic, they gave me a lot of pointers and they made me grow over the summer with the lockout happening.
“Then when we came into camp, Brian was like, ‘Hey, we’ve run these gassers; we’ve gone through these plays; we’ve done this and did that.’ It was just more of an inside thing for us and it affected my play a lot.”
While the work wasn’t always as extensive as the canceled organized team activities, the accountability was.
“It wasn’t mandatory, but it was mandatory, and that’s what built up our confidence in everybody that was there,” Vaughn said. “It’s a true statement that hard work pays off.”
Hard work has gotten him the opportunity. Performance will now determine how long it lasts.