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Bannan explains decision to choose Broncos over Ravens

Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said he plans to greet former teammate and current Denver Broncos defensive end Justin Bannan on Sunday in his own special way.

"I'm going to form-tackle his ass before the game," Johnson joked Wednesday. "No, it'll be good to see him. I know he's going to be all jazzed-up, but like I said, he's going to be in white, and that's disappointing."

Leaving the Ravens after four seasons with the organization was difficult for Bannan, who includes Johnson, defensive tackles Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata and others among his close friends.

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"It's always tough when you're so used to your old teammates and team and the community and then you've got to uproot yourself and go somewhere else," Bannan said. "It's been a lot of work, but it's been really rewarding. My wife and I are real happy, and I'm basically just keeping my head down and working. It's tough, but it's going to pay off, and I think our team's making some good strides. So it's good."

Bannan, whose best year was 2008 when he made 56 tackles, one sack and one interception in 15 starts, plays left end in Denver's 3-4 alignment. But Bannan said the Broncos scheme is more similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers' version than the Ravens'.

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"They don't have me dropping back right now," he said of his assignment. "Basically, it's two-gapping, and I've got a responsibility and an area to take care of. That's my job, and that's what I've got to do."

Bannan was wooed to the Broncos by a five-year, $22 million contract that included a $6.3 million signing bonus and $10.5 million in guarantees. Another factor was the opportunity for Bannan, a University of Colorado graduate, to return to Colorado.

"I've always loved Colorado, ever since I left college," he said. "I've even lived in Colorado during my offseasons before. So it's always been a place on my heart and a place that I'm familiar with. So it's a pretty good deal to come back here and work here and live in Colorado."

Bannan said he's already talked to Johnson and Gregg, and he is eager to see his former teammates. But he also said that he wants to leave Baltimore with a win.

"Like I said, those are the friends – Kelly, Jarret, Haloti and those guys – I'll know them for life," he said. "So it'll be good to see them. Before the game, we'll catch up, but once the game starts, we'll lock in and do what we have to do."

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