ENGLEWOOD - Even Ian Gold was surprised when the Denver Broncos signed him in March, considering they already had D.J. Williams and Al Wilson at linebacker. “I’m baffled,” Gold said not long after he signed. The Broncos didn’t have a desperate need for Gold to fill the third linebacker spot. They were aware, however, that the combination of Gold and Williams on the outside could be tough for opposing offenses. “A lot of times when offenses put together a scheme, they don’t account for certain guys,” Wilson said. Having Gold and Williams on the outside “makes it to the point where they really have to account for those guys because they are going to be around the football. It makes everybody else’s jobs easier, too.” Gold spent his first four NFL seasons with Denver and last season with Tampa Bay. So the Broncos welcomed the addition of a familiar playmaker on defense. “You can’t have too many,” general manager Ted Sundquist said. The Broncos didn’t pigeonhole Williams or Gold into the strongside position, the linebacker who lines up across from the tight end. Both are natural weakside linebackers, and neither was thrilled about playing the strong side, although both played both positions in the preseason. “To me they’re mirrored images, both positions,” linebackers coach Kirk Doll said. Gold said he and Williams are fine with the way they are being used. By moving them to different spots, it will make the defense less predictable. “I know he’s a good player and has a chance to be a great player,” Gold said of Williams. “I’m trying to still climb the ladder myself. So strong, weak, as long as we’re both on the field at the same time, it doesn’t matter.” The Broncos hope having three fast, aggressive linebackers can help create turnovers. Last year, Denver forced 20 turnovers. Only three teams had fewer. “I got a lot of high expectations for myself, and I know they have high expectations for me,” Gold said. “I’m priding myself on becoming a playmaker. Not once every couple games, but week in and week out.” Williams didn’t make many huge plays as a rookie last season but led the team in tackles and was third in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the year voting. “I know a little bit more than last year,” Williams said. “I can anticipate more now.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or email@example.com NEXT Season opener: Denver at Miami, 11 a.m. Sunday, CBS, 740/850 AM
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