Login  |   Register
On Now
Coming Up
  • Sun., Oct. 02, 2016 2:05 PM - 5:00 PM MDT GAMEDAY: Broncos at Buccs
    Broncos at Buccaneers
    Sunday, October 2 • 2:05PM MDT • CBS
    Week 4

  • Sun., Oct. 02, 2016 2:05 PM - 5:00 PM MDT GAMEDAY: Falcons vs. Broncos
    Falcons vs. Broncos
    Sunday, October 9 • 2:05PM MDT • FOX
    Week 5 • A Crucial Catch • presented by U.S. Bank

  • Mon., Oct. 03, 2016 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM MDT Hometown Huddle Hometown Huddle
    Date: Monday 10/3 5-7 pm
    Location: UCHealth Training Facility
    Description: Annual celebration of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver kids participating in the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge.
  • Fri., Oct. 07, 2016 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM MDT Crush Night Out Crush Night Out
    October 7, 2016
    6PM - 9:30PM
    Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    Click here to purchase tickets

    Crush Night Out is our most popular event and one that most of our members look forward to attending every year. The event provides Crush members with photo and autograph opportunities from their favorite Broncos players as well as a fun night out with friends. This event is normally held in early fall at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

    Membership is free. Not a Crush Member? REGISTER HERE

  • Thu., Oct. 13, 2016 6:25 PM - 9:30 PM MDT GAMEDAY: Broncos at Chargers
    Broncos at Chargers
    Thursday, October 13 • 6:25PM MDT • CBS / NFLN
    Week 6

  • Sat., Oct. 15, 2016 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM MDT Trick-or-Treat Party

    Trick-or-Treat Party
    October 15 • 10AM - 2PM
    Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    For more information visit Broncosbunch.com

  • Mon., Oct. 24, 2016 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM MDT GAMEDAY: Texans vs. Broncos
    Texans vs. Broncos
    Monday, October 24 • 6:30PM MDT • ESPN
    Week 7 • NFL Homecoming • Ring of Fame Ceremony • presented by Bud Light

  • Sun., Oct. 30, 2016 2:05 PM - 5:00 PM MDT GAMEDAY: Chargers vs. Broncos
    Chargers vs. Broncos
    Sunday, October 30 • 2:05PM MDT • CBS
    Week 8 • Halloween Extravaganza • presented by Nationwide

  • Tue., Nov. 01, 2016 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM MDT Drive for Life Drive for Life
    Date: Tuesday 11/1, 8 am – 5 pm
    Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    Description: 19th annual community blood drive in partnership with Bonfils Blood Center. Appointments are not needed, for more information please visit: www.bonfils.org
  • Sun., Nov. 06, 2016 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM MST GAMEDAY: Broncos at Raiders
    Broncos at Raiders
    Sunday, November 6 • 6:30PM MST • NBC
    Week 9


Willis Preparing for Opportunity

Posted Jun 20, 2012

In 2011, wide receiver Matthew Willis played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. Now, with Peyton Manning at quarterback, he's looking to build on last season and make plays in 2012.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The 2011 season was a milestone for wide receiver Matthew Willis.

After three years on and off of practice squads and a stint on injured reserve in 2010, Willis played in all 16 games for the first time in his career.

Not to mention his team made the postseason and he played in both playoff games, hauling in an 18-yard reception against New England in the Divisional Round.

"That was big for me," Willis said. "It was huge. Finishing a season, just the knowledge you get, how you get comfortable. Last year was a whirlwind -- one of those seasons you'll never forget. It was a lot of fun. I had a good time. I'd love to follow it up again with a bigger season."

The fifth-year receiver, who was originally recruited by UCLA as a hurdler, is out to make sure that last year was not an anomaly, but rather a sign of things to come.

In 2007, Willis was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as a college free agent. Splitting time between the practice squad and the active roster, he earned playing time in five games as a rookie, hauling in an 11-yard reception and notching a special teams stop.

He spent the following season out of football before signing to the Broncos' practice squad for the final game of the year. In 2009, he made the practice squad again -- until the final game, when he cracked the starting lineup.

He followed that up with an exceptional 2010 preseason, which included a 122-yard, one-touchdown performance in the finale. But a foot injury ended his season prematurely -- he was placed on injured reserve after six games in which he caught one pass.

But it all finally came together last season. In 16 regular-season games played, he caught 18 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown.

“Matt Willis is a guy that nobody talks about a lot, but Matt is a leader in that receiver room as well," Wide Receivers Coach Tyke Tolbert said. "When he says stuff, people listen. He leads by example. He's always back there helping the young guys. He's one of the smartest guys that I've ever been around, as far as knowing all the positions. So I'm very pleased with him from a leadership standpoint.”

Willis agreed that he sometimes feels like a veteran in the meeting room, but he admitted that at times he still feels like a young guy.

His place right in between the veterans and younger players suits him just fine.

"I think it's a great group," Willis said. "We've got Stoke (Brandon Stokley) as our veteran guy, we've got DT (Demaryius Thomas) and (Eric) Decker, who have made plays, Bubba (Andre Caldwell) made plays in Cincinnati, Jason (Hill) has made plays, then we've got a group of younger guys that are hungry and ready to compete. You've got a good staircase of talented players. Everyone's hungry and ready to make a play and we all work well together. So it's been a lot of fun."

A restricted free agent entering the offseason, Willis said he knew he wanted to be back in Denver, and was elated when that became a reality.

Now he's working on overcoming a "learning curve" while digesting a new offensive system, and understands that what he did last season doesn't necessarily mean much entering 2012.

"Every year you start over," he said. "You take it year-by-year. My goal is to come in again and prove myself, make plays and just build off of that."

He was happy with how OTAs and minicamp went for him, and he hopes to keep getting "bigger, faster, stronger" by the time training camp rolls around.

He understands the opportunity in front of him with a quarterback the caliber of Peyton Manning under center. He's already learned plenty from Manning, watching his work ethic and asking him questions along the way.

It's not lost on Willis that in his career, Manning has helped turn previously unknown players into household names, whether it was new Bronco Jacob Tamme, Pierre Garcon, "Austin Collie," Willis chimed in.

“Based on Peyton's history, the fact that he's going through his reads and throwing to open guys, it doesn't matter what quote-unquote 'number' receiver you are, you're going to get your touches," Tolbert said. "Peyton is just that good, to the point where he's not going to try to force-feed any particular guy. He's going to go through his reads and hit the open guy. That's what he's been able to do and that's why he's been so successful.”

Willis said he's putting in the work now to make sure he'll be in position to benefit.

"It's definitely a good situation to be in," he said. "We're going to pass. With a guy like that who can put a ball anywhere, it's up to us to make the plays. I just hope to earn a spot and be out there to make those plays."

Facebook Comments

Let us know your thoughts. Comment below through Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo accounts.