The best locker room leadership emerges organically, evolving over time. The Broncos need leaders on their defense after the departures of Champ Bailey and Wesley Woodyard. They were the voice in a way that Adam Levine and Usher would never understand.

As veterans, Bailey and Woodyard earned respect through their performance and work ethic. The Broncos have players capable of filling the void, but the most obvious choice needs time.

Pass rusher DeMarcus Ware just got here. He joked last month that he became lost while driving to Dove Valley. Even with his potential Hall of Fame résumé, he can't walk into the room and start quoting Walt Whitman. You can't give yourself a nickname, and you can't announce yourself as the captain.

The peers decide in their response.

"I think the main thing is you sit back in the catbird seat and you just lead by example. Eventually, the guys, they know exactly that you mean business," Ware said. "Then eventually you're able to be a little bit more vocal and gradually you move up."

Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton fills a huge role for the Broncos, and must deliver in a bigger way this season. Pot Roast, a jovial character who attracts microphones, leads in seniority. Players will listen to Knighton as Ware makes his transition. Knighton sits in a tough spot, on the cusp of making huge money but required to show selflessness.

Many guys say they want this, but few embrace it. Knighton provided a variation of a Spiderman quote, hinting of his seriousness.

"I always tell guys like Von Miller, 'With the ability that you have comes a responsibility.' As well as I played last year, they're expecting me to lead this year and take my play to another level," Knighton said. "I lead every way I can. We've got a lot of young guys. Sometimes they'll mess up and they'll need a vet to let them know it's all right and we've been there before. We just want to make sure everybody's moving forward together."

Leadership requires accountability. The 2007 Rockies, who played in the World Series, coalesced because nothing was off limits. Anyone could razz anyone. Advice was parted mostly in private. The result was that the players didn't want to let each other down, a bond stronger than competing for even the most loyalty-inspiring coach.