John Lynch...


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Jan 22, 2006
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There's plenty of gas left in Lynch's tank
Despite being in 30s, Lynch, Ferguson still have powerful games

By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
August 2, 2006

ENGLEWOOD - The whispers are a scream. A shrill and unrelenting scream.

At least, it seems that way sometimes to John Lynch.

Because in football years, 23 is young, 28 is veteran and 34, well, it's downright gray around the temples, a hit-the-buffet-early deal. And Lynch, who just happens to be 34 (he turns 35 in September), knows the whispers are out there.

"And I get tired of it," he said Tuesday. "(Buccaneers linebacker) Derrick Brooks gave me a call when he was checking into camp. We were both talking that you're not the same as you were 10 years ago and that, sure, there are some things that are different.

"But there are just as many things you do better, like you understand how to take care of yourself a lot better. But he was asking me, 'Do you feel as good as you've ever felt?' I said, 'Absolutely.'

"I just don't believe the hype, you believe in yourself. You know you're going to hear it. Players are going to hear it, it's just a natural thing. I guess I choose not to listen."

Lynch isn't alone in all of this. Standing next to him in the Broncos' starting defense is Nick Ferguson, a 31-year-old who also chooses to turn a deaf ear to those who wonder about candles on a birthday cake as Denver goes about its business.

This will be the third season Ferguson and Lynch will be paired at safety in the Broncos' secondary.

And this season, more than the others, it seems, there are those on the outside, even some NFL personnel executives, who wonder how the Broncos have made the pairing work so well.

"Me, I try not to pay any of that any attention," Ferguson said. "I'm a young man. Aren't you only as old as you think you are? If you feel good, take care of yourself, it doesn't matter.

"It's all about how you take care of yourself and if you're blessed as far as injuries. . . . I can understand how sick and tired John is of hearing that, especially all that he's done, all that he's given to the game. For people to say he or anybody else should be done when he reaches a certain age the way he is playing is wrong."

Ferguson started every game last season, finishing with career-highs in tackles (81), interceptions (five) and passes defensed (12).

Lynch earned his seventh Pro Bowl trip, his second in the previous two seasons with the Broncos. He finished with two interceptions, moving him into a tie for the league's second-longest active streak of 11 consecutive seasons with at least one.

Lynch, Aaron Glenn and Ty Law trail Troy Vincent's 14.

And while the Broncos gave some thought to possibly securing a developmental prospect in the draft - they used only one of their seven draft picks on a defensive player, lineman Elvis Dumervil - they have made it clear they like what they have at the top of the depth chart.

"I know people were saying things like that before the draft, talking about the age thing, but people say that about (Broncos receiver) Rod (Smith)," Ferguson said.

"C'mon, look at Rod. Who (cares) what his age says? It's all about what you do on the field. That's the bottom line.

"I think sometimes all that age stuff . . . it's just a lot of people who wish they could do what we're doing."

For Lynch, it is the continuation of all he had hoped for when he signed with the Broncos before the 2004 season.

After being released by Tampa Bay because the Buccaneers had looked at the calendar and the veteran safety's X-rays - he had a neck injury in the 2003 season that required surgery - Lynch was careful to look for a place where he could continue to have an opportunity to reach the postseason.

And this past offseason he said quickly - at the Pro Bowl in February - he would be back for the 2006 season and beyond if he continued to feel as good as he does now.

"Last year, I was healthy as I've ever been," Lynch said. "The coaches told me in minicamp I was moving around better than I ever have. But it's about trying to win a championship - that's what I'm about, and people can say what they want."

Ferguson, who spent one year out of football and three years in the Canadian Football League before he was able to stick in the NFL with the New York Jets in 2000, is not about to surrender a starting job he has worked so hard to get.

In fact, he started more games last season (16) than he did in his previous five NFL seasons combined (12).

So here they are, the Broncos' set of 30-somethings ready for more.

"They're just good football players, that's why they're back there," Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "They're both good, good athletes, and they are as tough as pine nails, both of them.

"I'm glad to have them, glad to.",2777,DRMN_23918_4887427,00.html
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