ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Baron Browning made his mark with the Broncos as a rookie linebacker.
Now, he's on the outside looking in — and he's fine with that. Browning started nine games last season, delivering 58 tackles, while showing sideline-to-sideline athleticism. Despite missing the bulk of rookie minicamp and training camp, the former Ohio State star advanced quickly into a prominent role after injuries to inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, including relaying the signals.
However, a coaching and defensive coordinator change brought a position switch. Browning, who played inside and outside in college, began working on the edge this spring, something he said Wednesday he welcomes.
"I kind of wanted to make the move, but they felt the same way," Browning said. "I don’t know if this is something for just this period for right now, but I’m just making the most of it and working on just perfecting my craft every day.”
At 6-foot-3, 240-something pounds, Browning profiles as a pass rusher with his speed and power. New defensive boss Ejiro Evero watched the film and believed Browning could adjust.
"He's done a great job. He did really well in the first minicamp we had. He really displayed some things, showed some really good rush ability. Obviously, with the transition, he has to get better at some of the fundamentals in terms of hitting blocks and setting the edge and he's been doing a great, great job," Evero said. "He's been working his butt off. He's coming along.”
The NFL waits for no one, and if you need a place to keep you humble, this is the place. So for a 23 year old to try something new speaks to his ability to learn and listen. That's where the veterans enter this story. Browning has leaned on "old heads" Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed and Randy Gregory. Gregory is sidelined for the entire offseason and likely training camp following rotator cuff surgery, but has become a valuable resource for Browning.
"I ask ‘RG’ a lot of questions and he breaks things down — small things, whether it’s the set line of the offensive tackle or if I could have taken a better approach. It’s just small things that he sees. I have even kind of gotten with him after practice just to pick his brain one-on-one," said Browning, who is healthy this offseason after dealing with a bone bruise in his knee this time a year ago. "I definitely enjoy having him around and learning from him. He has a lot of knowledge in him that you can learn from him.”
Don't Stand Pat
Broncos receiver Tim Patrick brings an edge and intensity to practice spawned by his unlikely path to the NFL. He is adjusting to another new coach and offensive leader, but appreciates Nathaniel Hackett's energy. Hackett talks trash to the defense during practice — the D has stepped up the past two days with interceptions by Pat Surtain II and Justin Simmons — and "it shows he has our back," Patrick explained.
The Broncos' cultural shift starts with Hackett but runs through nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson. The Super Bowl champion continues to set the tone everyday.
"When you see someone carry themselves the right way every day, it makes you up your game not to slack and to put winning first. At the end of the day, we’re all here to win a Super Bowl and if our quarterback does it, no one has an excuse not to do it," said Patrick, who has averaged 52 catches, 738 yards and five touchdowns the past two seasons.
"When you have someone like ‘Russ,' you really don’t have to lead because he’s just a big presence and he carries himself the right way. If you don’t follow his way or the way he — I don’t want to say, "If you don’t follow his way," but if you see Russ doing it and you’re not doing it — if you can’t put in extra work, you’re not serious about winning and you don’t belong on this team.”