FLOWERY BRANCH – Former Falcons stalwart Keith Brooking, now a member of the Denver Broncos, is set to make his return to the Georgia Dome on Monday.
In order to improve their depth on defense, the Broncos signed the former Falcons stalwart after training camp started in August.
Despite missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury, the five-time Pro Bowler played on nine of Denver’s 81 defensive snaps (11%) in their 31-19 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
After not being re-signed by the Falcons after the 2008 season, Brooking signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He spent the last three seasons wearing a star on his helmet.
The Broncos are playing Brooking, 36, at weakside linebacker and on special teams. He backed up Wesley Woodyard and played mostly in running situations.
“The plan for (Brooking) was to spell a little bit,” Denver coach John Fox told the Denver Post. “We probably didn’t do a good job of spelling our three (linebackers.) They were up in the 70s as far as (play) totals. We’ll bring Danny Trevathan along as well as Keith Brooking, who didn’t get a lot of time on the field in the preseason.”
Brooking was a surprise roster pick because he didn’t play during the preseason.
“We’re going off reputation and the leadership that he can bring,” Broncos executive vice president John Elway told the Denver Post at the time.
Brooking was drafted out of Georgia Tech in 1998 and played with the Falcons until 2008.
Brooking is just part of Denver’s “Georgia Gang” that includes Woodyard (LaGrange native), cornerback Champ Bailey (Georgia), wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech) and running back Knowshon Moreno (Georgia).
The Falcons current regime elected not to re-sign Brooking after the 2008 season and told him that “this is a young man’s game.”
It was understandable that Brooking was pumped for the Cowboys-Falcons game in October (which somewhat turned both teams’ seasons around — the Falcons’ in the wrong direction). It was somewhat comical — and certainly out of character — how he trash-talked his former team and mocked them during Dallas’s win. (He later apologized for the trash-talking. But when asked about taunting the team by flapping his arms like a bird during the game, he responded, “I ain’t apologizing to anybody.”)
Brooking should be forgiven for his actions. The Broncos should introduce him with the starting lineup so the local kid from Coweta County can get one last ovation at the Georgia Dome.
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