By Rich Kurtzman
Mike Adams, S #20
Hometown: Paterson, New Jersey
Experience: 9 years
These 2012 Denver Broncos have emerged as true contenders for an NFL championship, in large part due to John Elway’s amazing ability to sign spectacular free agents. Of course, Peyton Manning stole all the headlines in March and continues to do so. And even another free agent signing in the secondary has received more notoriety, as Tracy Porter won AFC Defensive Player of the Week before being sidelined for weeks with seizure symptoms.
But a valuable free agent that’s flown under the radar while contributing in a huge way has been safety Mike Adams. Adams’ football roots go back to the University of Delaware, where he recorded 213 tackles and 11 interceptions and was named second-team All-Atlantic 10 as a senior.
Adams went undrafted, like fellow Broncos secondary mates Chris Harris and Tony Carter, and was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He played there for three years, enjoying his best professional season in 2005 with career-highs of 74 total tackles and four interceptions. In 2007, Adams moved to Cleveland, playing for the Browns for five years as a quite consistent safety.
For the Broncos, he’s been a superb strong safety, proving from Day One he can still compete at a mile high level in his ninth professional season. Adams is on pace to break his personal best in tackles, as he has 53 through nine games, putting him second on the team behind middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
He’s also a solid cover man, batting away eight passes, which is tied for the team lead, while also forcing one fumble and recovering two others. But it was Adams’ amazing play last Sunday that earned him this recognition, not just his four tackles, but the stellar sack of Cam Newton in the end zone. With Denver’s defense dominating the contest already, Newton dropped back from his two yard line and into the Panthers’ end zone, only to see a bunch of Broncos players barreling down on, with Adams securing the safety. According to Denver Broncos PR genius Jim Saccomano, it was the first safety Carolina had given up in 186 games, breaking the longest streak in NFL history. It also put the men in orange and blue up 29-7 in the fourth quarter, capping off a 22-point run by Denver’s defense and special teams.
And there’s something else about Adams that makes him special, the veteran strong safety is helping along second-year free safety Rahim Moore, who has been starting along side him all season long. Moore has seen his share of rough patches, last year and this season as well, but he’s also learning what it takes to be an NFL safety and play at a consistently high level, which could benefit the franchise for years to come.
If Denver indeed wins the AFC West—this week’s game against San Diego plays a massive role in that determination—Adams will certainly be a reason why, even if no one else talks about the quiet safety.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.