For the Denver Broncos, defense is going to be a huge factor in determining if they can get over the hump and win the Super Bowl. This means those 11 players on defense are going to need to step up in a big way, including a player who has underachieved in his time with the team: middle linebacker Nate Irving
Irving will be heading into training camp as the starter for the Broncos, but he is going to need to step up if he hopes to hold his job and not lose it to one of the up-and-coming rookies, Lamin Barrow and Corey Nelson. The reason why his job could be in trouble is his lack of production since being drafted in 2011. He only has one sack recorded and has been almost nonexistent in the defense.
If he has any hope of playing in the 2014 NFL season, he needs to impress in training camp.
Irving has all the abilities to become a great defensive player for the Broncos. His speed is quite remarkable, and he can get from one side of the field to the other in a matter of seconds. When it comes to the running game, Irving thrives because of his knack for getting to the ball carrier. Perhaps his best ability is dropping in coverage, which makes him a solid player all around when it comes to playing prevent defense.
However, he missed an entire season in college due to a serious car accident. His inability to shift direction could also be a factor because it might allow the runner or receiver to break away from coverage and get downfield. He focuses on making the big hit instead of wrapping up, which could cause more harm than benefit if the opponent can stand tall after the hit.
Irving is going to need to prove to himself and the Broncos organization that he deserves to continue starting at middle linebacker. If he cannot do that, then it will be time for him to sit back and warm the bench while another player looks to succeed in where he failed.