DENVER – Sometimes, you’re not looking for greatness; you just want a guy who can do the job, be a solid pro and ensure you have depth.
That’s the case with veteran Justin Bannan, a long-time rotational defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens whose career hit journeyman status in recent years. By signing with the Broncos, he changes teams for the third time in as many offseasons.
It might end up being four if his role is to ensure the Broncos have enough defensive tackles to effectively make it through this coming season and buy time for any draft picks at the position to develop. So it often goes for a player like Bannan — never a star, but solid when asked to produce and a quality presence in the locker room.
During his 2010 season with the Broncos as a 3-4 defensive end, Bannan was a stabilizing presence in a chaotic situation. The Broncos’ front seven was in tatters most of the year, having never recovered from Elvis Dumervil’s torn pectoral muscle and the subsequent final, failed attempt at spurring 2007 first-round pick Jarvis Moss from all-time Broncos bust to steady-contributor status. Nose tackle Jamal Williams was effective in spurts, but was no longer the gap-clogging, two-blocker occupying force he had been inside. More was asked of Bannan than he’d ever experienced before, and he handled it — and the collapsing season — without complaint, albeit also without a sack.
Bannan has always been a good run defender, but expect him to be much more effective in the pass rush for his second Denver tour of duty with Dumervil and Von Miller now floating around the front seven.
At the least, Bannan should quiet people who fretted that not only would the Broncos be weak at defensive tackle, but that they wouldn’t have enough players at the position to get through a game — especially if they didn’t draft at least two players at the position between April 26 and 28.
Now, barring a wave of injuries, the Broncos should have enough to play, and play well — and won’t have to rely on a rookie to be named later to be rushed into duty beyond his first-year capabilities.