Since the Broncos are just one week into offseason workouts, the newness hasn’t worn off for Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme and Andre Caldwell … or for returning linebacker Joe Mays, who’s inspired by his new defensive coordinator.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Everyone in the Broncos’ locker room gets excited by something just a little bit different about the 2012 season.
For new acquisitions Jacob Tamme and Andre Caldwell, it’s the chance to work with quarterback Peyton Manning. Tamme did as a tight end for the Colts from 2008-11, but Caldwell endured a rotating cast of quarterbacks in four years with the Bengals, catching passes from Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick and, finally, Andy Dalton.
Dalton became a Pro Bowler by the end of 2011, but when the first team practices began, the then-rookie could only follow.
“The quarterback had to get adjusted to us [last year in Cincinnati], but instead, Peyton is leading us,” Caldwell said. “He’s showing us all the drills we need to do.
“He’s ahead of everybody, and he’s just our leader.”
Tamme said he didn’t speak with Manning during his free-agent process, but the familiarity didn’t hurt the Broncos’ chances.
When I made my visit, it was the first time that we talked,” Tamme said. “The main thing was just like it was on the other places; I just wanted to see what the plan was, get the feel for the place.
“This was definitely the right place. It’s obviously a great opportunity to get the chance to play with him again.”
PLAYING WITH MANNING appealed to tight end Joel Dreessen — but playing for John Elway might have made his choice even easier.
Dreessen grew up in Fort Morgan as a Broncos fan — “the biggest Broncos fan ever,” he said — and seeing the message touched both his pragmatic side and the 12-year-old boy within.
“It was basically a text message that Mr. Elway sent me. He was like, ‘Joel, I hope you come here. I think you’re going to be wildly successful here in Denver.’ That was kind of a selling point for me,” Dreessen.
Befitting the respect and admiration Dreessen has for Elway, he twice referred to him as “Mr. Elway” in his press conference Thursday.
“I can’t tell you how many times I threw the football up to myself in the back yard pretending I was John Elway,” Dreessen said. “I was a sophomore and junior in high school when they were winning the Super Bowl in ’97 and ’98, and I was skipping class to try to get down to Denver to go to the parades and all that.
“When I left (Colorado State) and I was a couple of years into the league, my best friend and roommate was (former Broncos offensive tackle) Erik Pears,” he continued. “I remember joking around with him saying, ‘I’m going to be a Bronco someday. You wait and see,’ and it came full-circle.”
And after Elway texted Dresseen, the fan-turned-player has the Hall of Famer’s number — and won’t lose it.
“Hell, yes, I saved it!” Dreessen said.
THEN THERE’S LINEBACKER JOE MAYS, whose optimism is stirred by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Three months ago, it appeared that John Fox’s reunion with his former defensive coordinator would be the signature acquisition of the offseason … before Manning became a realistic possibility.
“Everyone’s excited about the Peyton Manning addition. I’m more excited about Jack Del Rio,” Mays said.
In Del Rio, Mays sees a man who, if not a kindred spirit, can at least understand his perspective.
“He’s a linebacker. He played in the league,” Mays said. “You know what to expect.
“The sky’s the limit for us linebackers with him coming in. I think he’s going to make things a lot easier on us. And even though he’s going to want us to make a lot more plays, that’s what we expect.”
Mays said that Del Rio has already begun tweaking the defense.
“We put a couple of coverages in. We still have a lot more to do — a lot more to do,” Mays said.