Bruton gets snaps with 1st team with Dawkins out
ENGLEWOOD – Rookie safety David Bruton is getting a crash course in the NFL following Brian Dawkins’ injury.
Bruton, a free safety from Notre Dame, has stepped in at strong safety with Denver’s first unit since Dawkins got hurt Tuesday. Dawkins is in his first season in Denver after 13 years in Philadelphia.
The Broncos have declined to reveal the nature or extent of Dawkins’ injury, saying he’ll be out a few days. He appeared to have hurt a wrist or hand during drills.
“What happened with Dawkins, it’s sad, but you get your call, it’s time to step up … and hope for a speedy recovery,” Bruton said.
The 35-year-old Dawkins, a seven-time Pro Bowl safety, was the cornerstone of Denver’s offseason refurbishing project. He signed what is essentially a two-year, $9 million deal following a 13-year run in Philadelphia, where he was enormously popular with the city’s traditionally tough fans.
Dawkins is clearly on the downside of his career. Still, he is a hard hitter and leader, the qualities coveted by new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator before replacing Mike Shanahan.
Dawkins said McDaniels envisions him playing a role similar to Rodney Harrison’s in New England. Those plans are on hold, but nobody knows for how long.
“He will be out for a few days and then once he is ready to roll here, I wouldn’t expect it to last too, too long. Certainly not anything devastating, but I am not going to go into details about what it is and all the rest of that,” McDaniels said Wednesday.
Dawkins wasn’t on the practice field Thursday morning. McDaniels won’t be available until after the team’s evening practice at Invesco Field, the Broncos’ first training camp workout at their stadium in five years.
“Oh, I’m looking forward to it,” Bruton said. “That will be my first time in an actual NFL stadium besides Indianapolis for the combine. I’m hoping not to disappoint. I feel very confident and I feel I’ve made a lot of strides.”
Bruton said his adjustment from free safety to strong safety is going well.
“I played free safety throughout college and I’m in the box now,” he said. “And my reads are getting a little better each day and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable.”
First-round draft pick Robert Ayers of Tennessee wasn’t as thrilled about the night workout.
“Not really, practice is practice,” he said, noting that the thousands of fans that were expected won’t come close to competing with the huge crowds that watched him work in college.
“Yeah, I’m used to 107,000,” Ayers said. “So, this might be a step down.”
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