At one end of the practice field on Sunday, Brian Dawkins counseled defensive backs and linebacker D.J. Williams. At the other, Karl Mecklenburg worked with defensive ends on their pass-rush moves. A day earlier, Terrell Davis watched practice. And John Lynch and Tom Jackson have spoken in team meetings.
There's no threat of the Broncos becoming what the Raiders lapsed into at times in the last several years -- so immersed in the past that they were blinded to the present. But the steady stream of former players inside the ropes and around the sidelines is a visible example of how John Elway, now an executive vice president, wants the Broncos to gallop into their future by embracing their past.
Mecklenburg said that coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio asked him to help counsel the defensive linemen. He eagerly accepted.
"It's been a few years since veteran guys were welcome out here," said Mecklenburg, who spent Sunday's practice counseling rookie Derek Wolfe and other defensive ends during individual drills.
Davis, Jackson and Mecklenburg are all members of the team's Ring of Fame. Wide receiver Rod Smith (1994-2008) will be inducted into the Ring this season; he spoke to the team in June.
Mecklenburg, an outside linebacker form 1981-94, can't be on hand every day; his commitments as a motivational speaker keep him from taking on a full-time position. But he will help out whenever possible -- and hopes other ex-Broncos can join him, now that the organization is rolling out the welcome mat.
"The door is open now. I'm sure anybody who's interested in coming out will come out," Mecklenburg said. "I think it's a good idea to take advantage of the wisdom and the tradition of Bronco football teams."
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