NFL Wire News

Broncos open Camp Kubiak with sharp message


The Sports Xchange

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders came to the first team meeting under head coach Gary Kubiak on Monday at the outset of team offseason workouts literally wearing his coach’s message.

“‘Iron sharpens iron,'” outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said of Sanders’ shirt, which matched the theme of Kubiak’s first-day speech that included a snippet of the 2014 Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks. “That’s where it all starts out — guys being there for each other and digging in. These OTAs, mini camps and training camp, that’s where it starts. You build that. … It starts right here in this room and it’s about the small things.”

Sanders said the intended message, spoken or symbolic, is blatant by design. Sanders was not part of the 2014 team that fell short in the Super Bowl. He was a Pro Bowl receiver last season in his first season with the Broncos and on the team that lost again in disheartening fashion, at home, to the Indianapolis Colts in January.

“We’re focused on this year. We’ve got a totally different coaching staff,” Sanders said. “We’ve got a new offense. We’ve got a totally different group of guys. I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a successful year.”

That’s the reason Kubiak is back in Denver, where he served as a backup quarterback to John Elway and called plays as offensive coordinator before his first chance to be a head coach with the Houston Texans. Elway called Kubiak to take over the Broncos after coach John Fox won four division titles in four seasons. When Elway let Fox go in January, he said the Broncos were not finishers.

Changing that is up to Kubiak, who was graced with the return of Peyton Manning, the 39-year-old quarterback who is not only the team’s most respected and recognized leader, but essentially the offensive coordinator without the name plate adorning his locker. Manning played hurt at the end of last season and was a physical shell of his former self when the Colts walked over Denver in the divisional playoffs.

“You talk about a guy that understands that the clock is ticking for him,” said Sanders, who recently worked out with Manning and several other wide receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, at Duke University. “He loves this game. He’s one of those guys that I say repeatedly that I’ve never seen a guy that loves the game of football as much as he loves it. That passion and that spark is there. He’s still the great leader of this organization and he’s fired up about Kubiak being here and hopefully bringing a world championship to the city.”

Ware said he communicates with Manning at least weekly, and the team leaders quickly got in tune with Kubiak’s message.

“I think when you have your first meeting, the meeting is always about, ‘The time is now. What are you in this room for?,'” Ware said. “Our motto was if you sit back and you think about the past, you can think about we could’ve done this in the playoffs, we could have done this two years ago. What about now? What about the guys in this room?”

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business