Frank Clark, hype man, was minutes into describing why he’s so confident in his fellow Broncos outside linebackers when he put his finger right on the group’s pulse.
“As a room, we’re just trying to figure it out collectively,” Clark told The Post. “We don’t have all the answers; we’re not perfect. We got some hard-headed dudes in that room. But at the end of the day we’re just trying to play the best football we can.”
Clark, the ninth-year pro, owns perhaps the hardest head and hardest edge in a meeting room of hard-headed edges. Say that five times fast.
But sitting at his locker as one reporter turned into a swarm Thursday afternoon following Denver’s long, sun-scorched practice, he beamed about everything from the fact that Week 1 is finally here to the work Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto have done this offseason. And Randy Gregory, for that matter. And undrafted rookie Thomas Incoom — “shoutout to him. He made his first 53-man roster,” Clark said proudly. And Baron Browning, who’s out at least the first four weeks following offseason knee surgery but is hoping to be back shortly after that.
Game week rolls around, particularly an opener against the Raiders, and Clark can’t help but get excited.
“It’s football season,” he said. “I built some great relationships over the summer with these guys. Being able to get out there with my guys this weekend, thank God we get to go out here against a talented team in Oakland — Vegas, Oakland, same thing — we get to go against a talented team in Oakland. That’s a great test.”
It’s one Clark says his guys are up for.
He was more than 250 words deep in an answer about Cooper and Bonitto when he acknowledged, “Man, I can go all day about my guys. That’s my room.”
His highest praise, though, came talking about that pair.
“It’s a hats off,” Clark said. “You talk about two players and guys I’ve been around since I’ve been in the league and young guys, those are two of the best young guys I’ve ever seen play. Honestly. I’ve been around a lot of great guys, a lot of great players.”
Cooper, he said, has turned himself into a three-down player. Four downs, if an opposing offense dares go for it.
“I feel like Coop’s had one of the best camps that anybody could have had around here or anywhere in the damn country,” Clark said.
Bonitto? He did some good things and had some rough patches as a rookie — Clark, a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl Champion, was in Kansas City for that — but the veteran said of the 2022 second-round draft pick, “I feel like he’s finding his way in this now.”
Then there’s Gregory. He and Clark were selected three picks apart in the 2015 draft. They’ve each been around a long time. Neither is interested in cliche. Both have seen their fair share of trouble with the league – Clark most recently was suspended two games last year in fallout from separate gun charges in 2021.
Now the Broncos are banking on both of them turning in productive seasons in 2023, each on the back side of 30 years old.
“Randy just want to play some agenda-free football and if you allow Randy to play that, he’s going to be a hell of a player,” Clark said.
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Clark just signed with the Broncos back in June. He was an on-and-off practicer early in training camp. One day, he came out 25 minutes late and had an extended back-and-forth with multiple Broncos staffers before coach Sean Payton told reporters after practice he had “nothing to report” about the matter. Then Clark conspicuously played into the fourth quarter of Denver’s second preseason game. He’s listed as a second-stringer behind Gregory and Cooper. It hasn’t necessarily been all sunshine and rainbows every day since he showed up for camp.
But you know what? The Raiders are in town Sunday. The games count now. So what’s not to love?
Frank Clark, hype man, is ready to play.
“There ain’t nothing like Sundays, bro,” he said. “It’s about time.”