Broncos favor Brooking in middle over Mays

Kevin Fishbain
Pro Football Weekly
Middle of 'D' in 2013 a question mark for Denver

It’s an understatement to say that Broncos MLB Joe Mays’ playing time plummeted after Week Five. In the loss to the Patriots, he played in 88-of-94 defensive snaps and made nine tackles, but Denver allowed 251 rushing yards. Against the Chargers on Monday night in Week Six, Mays did not play a single defensive snap. He was on the special-teams unit for 18 snaps and notched one tackle.

Veteran Keith Brooking took over for Mays in the middle, as he did in Week Four when Mays served a one-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Texans QB Matt Schaub.

Head coach John Fox explained the decision when talking to reporters on Tuesday, and it appears the situation may be fluid:

“In defense of Joe, he did sit out a week. I didn’t know the effect that would have. Let me put it this way; I didn’t think it would be a setback,” he said. “We have not given up on Joe Mays by any stretch; he’s still a very good football player. We’re in the business of doing what it takes to win, and that was what we thought at that time. Like all positions, we’ll evaluate him moving forward.”

Mays started 12 games last season and had 75 tackles, and got a three-year deal in March, but it appears Jack Del Rio prefers Brooking making the calls in the middle. Mays is a stout run stopper, but one daily team observer believes Denver has wanted an upgrade at the middle ‘backer spot, though Brooking, who turns 37 on Oct. 30, certainly isn't a long-term solution. The LB rotation is worth watching going forward, especially with the improved play of sixth-round rookie Danny Trevathan and to see what happens when D.J. Williams returns from suspension on Nov. 12.