Denver Broncos: Team Leaders Who Deserve to Be the Captains in 2011
With only a few weeks until the mile high magic resumes in the Monday night opener against the Oakland Raiders, let's weigh in on who, because of their talents and leadership, should be the team captains of the Denver Broncos for 2011.
Team captains display leadership skills both on and off the field. They set the tone for the locker room. They train hard. They stand up for their fellow teammates on the field.
This offseason saw much transition for the Broncos, and now that the dust has settled, I believe these players deserve the title of team captain.
Defense: Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey is the heart and soul of the defense.
He has been in Denver for seven seasons, and has only missed 10 games as a starting cornerback in that stretch. He is a leader on the field and is looked up to by veterans and rookies alike.
Early in the offseason, Bailey signed a four-year deal to stay in Denver that could be worth up to $47 million with $22 million in guarantees. His signing indicates that he will continue to be a major part of the team's plans for the immediate future.
Bailey is an easy choice to be a team captain in 2011.
Defense: Elvis Dumervil
Elvis Dumervil is one of the fastest, most explosive defensive ends in the game. Even after coming off of a season-ending injury last year, Dumervil entered training camp in the best shape of his career.
Dumervil is ready to work. He is also fired up for the 2011 regular season. The extra conditioning work he put in this offseason combined with his electrifying on-field skills will again lift him up to elite status. In 2011, Dumervil will be one of the most feared defenders in the NFL.
Dumervil is a shoo-in for team captain in 2011.
Defense: Brian Dawkins
Brian Dawkins is the emotional leader of the defense for the Denver Broncos.
When he is on the field he is always giving it 110 percent. He is a fiery, loud-mouthed, bruising safety that wants to pass on his intensity to his teammates. Dawkins wants to spur them onto another level, especially rookie free safety Rahim Moore and the undrafted rookie Kyle McCarthy.
With all these young guys surrounding Dawkins on the field, he is a perfect role model to groom the Broncos' next generation at safety.
Dawkins' inspiration on the field earns him the last defensive team captain spot.
Offense: Ryan Clady
Ryan Clady is in his third season as an NFL pro. Before his knee injury in offseason of the 2010 season, Clady was regarded by many as the best left tackle in the NFL.
Left tackles are a very important commodity in the NFL, since they have the responsibility of guarding their quarterback's blind side. If you have a good left tackle, your quarterback can last a lot of years in the league.
Denver has one of the best young left tackles in the NFL. By far, he is the best lineman on the team. I think that this year, the coaching staff needs to promote Clady into a larger role on the O-line where he can lead some of the younger lineman (Beadles, Walton, and Franklin) to maturity in the NFL.
My vote is for Clady in 2011.
Offense: Brandon Lloyd
Brandon Lloyd is coming off his first ever Pro Bowl season. No matter who is in at quarterback, he figures to be a major contributor as a wide receiver.
Lloyd brings leadership to a young receiving corps. He has the attitude and swagger coupled with respect that many of the wide receivers in today's NFL lack.
Lloyd has been on various teams in his eight-year NFL career and the Broncos believe in him. They had a taste of his talent last season, and it looks like he could be around for several more years if his production continues.
Offense: Kyle Orton
Kyle Orton gets the captain title because he will win the starting quarterback position out of training camp.
Every starting quarterback coming out of training camp receives the captain designation. The only exception to the rule is if there isn't a clear cut choice at quarterback, and the competition continues into the season.
Do I think Orton has the leadership capabilities to be a captain for the Broncos? No. He was absent from almost all of the pre-camp workouts organized by some of the existing team captains, and he was anticipating being traded to Miami for the first part of training camp.
When talks broke off, the Broncos front office was fully committed to Orton as their quarterback. Orton won't be back in Denver next year, so he is basically auditioning all of this year to start for another team in 2012.
As a mercenary, one wonders how effective a "leader" can be if there is a great desire to succeed personally, but little vested interest in succeeding as a team.
Specialist: Lonie Paxton
Lonie Paxton is a veteran long snapper. Why should he be a captain?
The long snapper is one of the most important players on the field that no one sees, or recognizes, but is crucial in earning extra points, long field goals, and setting up punters to get great kicks off that pin opposing teams deep in their own territory.
Paxton is a 12-year veteran in the NFL and is rock solid. When you don't hear about a long snapper, then you know he is doing his job. Conversely, if you heard about him frequently, he'd probably be out of a job.
Paxton deserves to be recognized as a team captain because of his excellent and consistent play throughout many seasons in the league.