Vernon Fox is entering his second season with the Denver Broncos. But it's not the same team.
Coach Mike Shanahan is gone after 14 years. Starting quarterback Jay Cutler was traded to the Chicago Bears.
The offseason shake-up certainly got Fox's attention.
"As players, we were concerned about what was going on and wondered what direction we were going in," said Fox, a Cimarron-Memorial High School graduate. "Once it went the way it went, we understood it's a business and moved forward. There aren't any excuses or hindrances to what we can do as a team."
Fox, an eighth-year pro from Fresno State, said the front office is high on him and that he has made a smooth transition with new coach Josh McDaniels.
"He's very efficient, and I think he's a very knowledgeable coach," Fox said. "It's his first time as a head coach. He's learning as we are. I feel everyone jumped on board and we're heading in the right direction. I definitely like the enthusiasm and effort he brings."
Fox still makes his home in the Las Vegas Valley and returned Friday for the birth of his second child, a boy named Treylon.
Fox spent most of the weekend with his family before returning to camp Sunday.
With only Fox and second-year pro Josh Barrett returning at safety, the Broncos signed free-agent veterans Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill. They also drafted Darcel McBath in the second round from Texas Tech and David Bruton in the fourth round from Notre Dame.
With Denver set to play its exhibition opener Friday at San Francisco, Fox said he has been encouraged by his play in camp and is hopeful of making the roster.
"Very few safeties have the versatility to play both positions," he said.
Being able to play on special teams could ultimately make the difference for the 5-foot-10-inch, 206-pound Fox.
"It always helps when you have the ability to step up and be a huge part of special teams," Fox said. "I pray that helps me in the end when they have the decision-making process."
Fox's NFL career has included stops in Detroit, Washington and San Diego, where he broke into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2002. He has 105 tackles and two interceptions in 96 career games, including 14 starts.
The tumultuous offseason in Denver began with the firing of Shanahan in December after the Broncos missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Cutler feuded with McDaniels after finding out the coach tried to acquire quarterback Matt Cassel in a trade with New England, then forced a trade to Chicago.
Just when everything seemed to be quieting down, Cutler created more controversy last week by calling Chicago a better NFL town than Denver.
"As a player, you have a history of brushing things off and moving forward," Fox said. "You try to do your job and stay away from the drama."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914.