RICHMOND — Sporting a burgundy Redskins-branded bucket hat, defensive back David Bruton Jr. intently watches Washington’s secondary from a spot near the end zone. The unit looks vaguely familiar to Bruton. And Duke Ihenacho isn’t the reason.
Bruton played seven seasons in Denver — where he had 49 combined tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions last season for the Super Bowl champions — before signing with the Redskins in March. He sees similarities between the Redskins’ defensive backfield and Denver’s.
“I think there’s a lot of parallels as far as how guys work and how guys take this profession,” Bruton said. “Just by how we go about work, how we go about our daily process with how important meetings are to us, individually and collectively.”
Bruton knows the Washington secondary is deep, with DeAngelo Hall, Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon, Quinton Dunbar and Ihenacho — a former teammate in Denver — as well as newcomer Josh Norman. But regardless, he’s contending for a starting safety position.
“I’ve really liked the way he shows up to work every day as a professional as the definition is,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s going to compete.”
“I’m just going about my work,” Bruton said. “Whatever I have to do, I’ll do to help the team win and help the team get better.”
Bruton said he’s taken advice from Hall, Norman and Breeland during training camp and OTAs. And it’s helped. The advice he has coming in from Denver Pro Bowlers Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and T.J. Ward has helped even more.
“That’s not every day you get a chance to come in as a rookie and be with future Hall of Famers right there off the bat and learn how they operate, learn what they see,” Bruton said. “You want to take everything and use it to better yourself, to continuously work on your craft and become a better player and that’s what I ultimately want to do. I feel like with those guys helping tailor my game, the sky’s the limit for me individually.”
But teaching, on and off the field, is where Bruton finds true joy. On the field, Bruton has the opportunity to mentor three rookie defensive backs, Su’a Cravens, Kendall Fuller and Geno Matheis-Smith. Off the field, Bruton worked as a substitute teacher during the 2011 NFL lockout and started his own foundation, “Bruton’s Books.”
“I absolutely loved it,” Bruton said. “I love being able to teach kids, help them get better and help them learn to read. … I think that experience was very eye opening. I definitely want to give mad props to all the teachers who definitely put in that extra time and effort to teach and mold our youth. Because without them, there’s no telling what this world could end up being like.”