ENGLEWOOD — The Denver Broncos had to start somewhere rebuilding the defense this offseason, so they chose to attack the secondary.
Three new starters — cornerback Andre Goodman and safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill — were signed to join cornerback Champ Bailey. The moves will upgrade the secondary, which ranked 26th in passing yards allowed and 31st in interceptions last year. The risk was putting together four starters who are all past 30 years old.
Not surprisingly, the Broncos don’t see the defensive backs’ age as a problem.
“That means we’re really smart and really experienced,” Bailey said.
The situation is unique. According to “Football Outsiders Almanac 2009,” a book that breaks down every team statistically, the Broncos will have the oldest secondary in the NFL since at least 2000. The average age of the starters is 32.3 years old. According to Football Outsiders, 12 secondaries since 2000 had an average age over 30. Seven ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in Football Outsiders’ pass defense rankings and only one finished higher than ninth.
The Broncos need to stay healthy to be a successful secondary. Dawkins went to the locker room during practice Tuesday with an apparent injury, but coach Josh McDaniels offered no update on the nature of the injury or the severity.
If Denver’s defensive backs stay healthy, they feel they can be a top-notch unit.
“Age only matters if you can’t play football,” Goodman said. “I don’t feel like I’m slowing down.”
Moss back competing for job
Jarvis Moss decided not to retire. Now that the outside linebacker is back at Broncos camp, he has to secure a spot on the roster.
The 2007 first-round pick, who left camp before Saturday’s practice and contemplated retirement, returned Tuesday. He didn’t speak with the media as he left practice, but coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t worry about Moss’ state of mind.
“He’s ready to go, and he went out there and had a good practice today,” McDaniels said.
Moss lined up mostly with the third-team defense. He is behind Elvis Dumervil, Darrell Reid, Tim Crowder and Robert Ayers at outside linebacker.
Referee Ed Hochuli, whose blown call allowed Denver to beat San Diego in the second game of last season, and his crew will be at practice the next few days. Hochuli said San Diego’s victory over Denver in the regular-season finale, giving the Chargers the AFC West title, didn’t take away the sting of his error.
“Nothing will get me off the hook for the mistake,” Hochuli said.
Greisen to IR
Linebacker Nick Greisen was put on injured reserve with a knee injury. He was replaced on the roster by linebacker Braxton Kelley.
FRANK SCHWAB, THE GAZETTE