ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--– Score another one for the Denver Broncos' pro personnel department. Or at least get ready to score another one if defensive tackle Marvin Austin can keep his current training camp momentum through the preseason games to the roster cut down to 53 players.
But for a team that has made consistent work of getting quality return on one-year deals to a veteran players to fill roster gaps, Austin looks like he’ll soon be added to the list. Austin signed a one-year, no-bonus, $570,000 deal with the Broncos just before the draft.
At that time John Elway said simply Austin was “a guy that really had a first-round grade on him three years ago."
But Austin’s NFL career to that point had been filled with injuries, so much so the former second-round pick by the Giants had been on injured reserve as a rookie in 2011, played in just eight games in 2012 and was released by the Giants, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys in a three-month span last season. But following surgery to repair a disc problem in his back, the Broncos liked what they saw from Austin in a workout and reeled him in. Austin has done enough in training camp so far that he worked some with the starting defense in Tuesday’s practice.
“I was like, ‘I appreciate it.’ I just go out there and perform and work every day at practice and they said that my performance thus far warranted me getting some reps with the (starters)," Austin said. “We are competing ... So I just want to come compete every day and show them I can be a player in this league. I don’t want to be just a guy."
Should Austin maintain the current trajectory and keep himself on the field, he’ll join a rather productive list of one-year signings the Broncos have made over the last three seasons.
Last season it was Shaun Phillips -- who went on to lead the team in sacks with 10 -- who signed a one-year deal. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who signed a two-year deal on paper, but the second year was voided five days after the Super Bowl. Rodgers-Cromartie started 13 games for the Broncos last season and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three.
“You want to bring in guys that fit," Elway said. “Guys who have a chance to make your roster if they can bring what you’ve seen from them in the past."
The Broncos leaned on one-year players even more in 2012.
On the way to a 13-3 mark that included an 11-game win streak, the Broncos signed safety Jim Leonhard, defensive tackle Justin Bannan, linebacker Keith Brooking, center Dan Koppen and wide receiver Brandon Stokley to one-year deals. Of those players, only Leonhard got a signing bonus ($65,000).
By season's end Brooking, Bannan and Koppen were starters, while Leonhard and Stokley were key backups.
So, Austin is in good company, or will be if he keeps on the current path and makes the roster when the cuts for the regular season come.
“It feels great," Austin said. “I have been humble through my career so I know the type of opportunity that I have, so I am just grateful to be here today and grateful to be able to say I can still play football, especially at the professional level."