ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Todd Davis is not the person your friends warn you about. He is polite, hard-working, intelligent. Then, he pulls on a helmet and shoulder pads and his body might as well turn a shade of green. He goes through a startling transformation, becoming a menacing force in the middle of Denver's defense. Following the disappointing opening loss to the Raiders, Davis represents a needed lift. He tilts more electric guitar than acoustic. But it's more than that, explained All-Pro Von Miller.
"Todd is our gangster. Todd is our personality. He is our big hit guy." Miller said Thursday. "To have him out there, it gives us one of our thugs back. He's our thug. Every team has to have one. Todd is ours."
Davis, who will be on a play count of roughly 50, is a proven run stuffer. He hurt his calf on the first day of training camp and finally resumed practicing this week. He tested his leg before the Oakland game, showing marked progress. He appears set to start against Chicago. It is an ideal time for the "thug's" return in a game that figures to unfold as a bare-knuckle, backyard brawl.
"I like that compliment. I like bringing that kind of energy on the field," Davis told Denver7. "I am definitely not that guy off the field. But on the field, I want to be that dominating force for my defense. It's not anybody who's outrageous or over the top. It's a guy who's going to play hard and be tough to deal with on every play."
Davis plays an important role beyond production. He calls the defensive signals. Last week, the Broncos dealt with communication issues. Having Davis back will help. The secondary also has to uncross its wires. With Kareem Jackson moving to corner in Bryce Callahan's absence – Jackson played sparingly there in training camp – the defensive backs were not always on the same page. It spawned problems, and left Issac Yiadom exposed and vulnerable.
"(Yiadom) was angry. But he will learn from it," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "If you are in this league for a bit, you are going to have a game like that."
Added defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, "He's a tough-minded kid. I truly intend for him to respond in a really strong way."
The Broncos face a Bears offense coming off a dreadful game. Chicago scored three points in its opening loss to the Packers. Worse, the Bears went 3-for-17 on third and fourth-down conversions and finished with 46 yards rushing. The Broncos expect a rejuvenated group, but recognize points could and should remain at a premium.
"We have to let last week go, and show not only the Bears but the rest of the league who we are," said Davis, who broke down the team huddle before Wednesday's practice with explicit language and spirited encouragement. "This Sunday we need to show who we are. Last week was not us by any means. We need to show the world who we are."
The Broncos trust Elijah Wilkinson as Ja'Wuan James' replacement at right tackle. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said, "he settled down, and I thought in the second half he played very well." ... Meanwhile, left tackle Garett Bolles struggled with his composure at times, and remains inconsistent. ... The Broncos are accelerating the development of cornerback Duke Dawson. He could become an intriguing figure in this defense if Callahan remains sidelined. Callahan appears a longshot to play this week with the Green Bay game a more realistic target given the issues with his foot. ... The Broncos' defensive starters played the majority of the snaps against Oakland. However, the reserves figure to get more work Sunday. Monday was an efficient game. Denver's defense was only on the field for 55 snaps. The number in most games is usually closer to 70.