HOLDEN: Marvin Austin already providing return on Broncos’ tiny investment
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There have always been questions about Marvin Austin. He hasn’t always been present to provide the answers.
At times, that has been his fault. Other times his body has betrayed him. It all depends on who you ask.
But when you actually pose those questions to Austin, he’s all too happy to provide answers.
Why does he think he’ll be able to catch on in Denver in his fourth year the way he wasn’t able to do in New York, Dallas or Miami during his first three?
“The first thing they told me when I got here was you ain’t here to take up space and keep guys off our linebackers,” Austin said. “I’ve played in those defenses, and they weren’t special. This team can be special because it’s full of guys who can and are being asked to make plays.”
Why is he still so upbeat despite all he’s been through, including a torn pectoral muscle, intensive spinal surgery and a conduct-based suspension during his senior season at North Carolina that took football away from him in what most considered his prime?
“Because I love this game, and I have fun playing it every day” Austin said. “I love getting out there with the guys and I enjoy dancing.”
Dancing? Yes, dancing. That’s how Austin describes pass rushing. And you’ll pardon him for saying it, but he can cut a rug.
It’s hard to imagine many Broncos offensive linemen would disagree after the show Austin put on in one-on-one pass rushing drills in a training camp practice Thursday morning.
Austin showed a variety of moves to get past his man, including a bull rush in which he nearly pancaked Ben Garland on top of the hypothetical quarterback.
At 6-foot-2, 312 pounds, Austin also showed up stopping the run during a 2-point conversion drill. When 225-pound rookie Juwan Thompson met him at the goal line, Austin didn’t budge.
And he had to laugh at Thompson’s suggestion that the play may not have ended there.
“He tried to move his legs and said, ‘You almost came in there with me,'” Austin said. “I let him know that if this had been a game, I would have taken his head off.”
For a team that’s trying to get nastier this year, Austin’s thoughts on busting skulls — and maybe even his unrefined tendencies — has to be music to the ears of Broncos Country.
“You gotta go out there and let that thing hang, for lack of a better phrase,” Austin said. “The No. 1 goal on defense is to be intimidating. Get out there and let them know: You come in here, we’ll be punching you in the (expletive) face.”
To borrow a term typically reserved for punchers, Austin may well end up being the Broncos best pound-for-pound defensive investment this season.
Sure, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward have brought a new level of physicality to the secondary, and at 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, Demarcus Ware still looks imposing bearing down on quarterbacks. But the Broncos paid a combined $110 million for the services of those tree plays.
They gave Austin a one-year deal for $570,000.
When the team’s first depth chart came out, Austin was listed as part of a four-man rotation at defense tackle that included Terrance Knighton, Kevin Vickerson and former first-round pick Sylvester Williams.
After his junior year, many thought that like Williams, Austin would also be a first-round pick. That was until he, along with fellow North Carolina teammates Greg Little, a wide receiver, and Robert Quinn, a defensive end, were all given season-long suspensions for breaking team and NCAA rules.
Like Austin, Little has bounced around from team-to-team in the NFL for the last four years. Robert Quinn on the other hand, was just named to ESPN’s “Best Team Money Can By” list after his first All-Pro season in 2013.
It may be far too early to put Austin in that same category. But so far, he’s looking well-worth the Broncos’ small investment.