ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Count guard Quinn Meinerz among those in favor of punishing defenses with a consistent run game.
Head Coach Sean Payton has been vocal about his plans to establish the run game this season, and Meinerz said he knows the offensive line is crucial to those efforts.
"We set the tone in the run game," Meinerz said of the offensive line's role in that area. "It's our job to get the movement and at the end of the day, influence or make the coach want to call more runs. That's a lot of fun for us."
This season, those efforts will include the return of running back Javonte Williams, who beat the presumed recovery timeline to return to training camp action after missing most of the 2022 season. Meinerz said he's excited to see what Williams will do and attested to Williams' work ethic rehabbing from his knee injury.
"It's incredible," Meinerz said. "You always feel real bad for a guy when they have an injury like that. I'm really happy for him. I saw him every day putting in the work, so for him to be back here and making great cuts, and when it gets to time for playing ball, I know he's gonna be knocking defenders back and we're gonna be pushing that pile."
While Meinerz is familiar with paving the way for Williams' big runs, he's learning a new offensive system with Payton and Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi.
It's a challenge that Meinerz has embraced, and the third-year guard even said it's become easier to pick up a new system over his career.
"A hidden positive in that is I've gotten pretty good at learning offenses," Meinerz said. "At the end of the day, as you keep learning offenses, things start to overlap a little bit, so this was kind of like the first time things were overlapping a little bit for me. I found it easier to learn this offense, and I think that the way the coaches were going through installs … has also been really valuable."
Players in the trenches don't always make highlights, but both the offensive and defensive linemen provided some of the entertainment on Friday's training camp practice with 9-on-7 drills and social media-worthy 1-on-1 battles between linemen from either side of the ball. Meinerz said it all has helped him sharpen his skills.
"One-on-ones are a Twitter drills, as some people say," Meinerz said. "At the end of the day, it really is working our craft, working on something new. It's not necessarily about the wins and the losses, it's about, 'Were your feet in the correct position? Were your hands working the right thing?'"
CALLAWAY LOOKING TO REPLICATE 2021 SUCCESS IN REUNION WITH PAYTON
Wide receiver Marquez Callaway was a breakout star for Payton's New Orleans Saints in the 2021 season, catching 46 passes for 698 yards and six touchdowns and helping the Saints overcome the absence of receiver Michael Thomas.
Callaway's stats dipped in his third year without Payton at the helm, but he sees parallels between his standout campaign and the upcoming season.
"Opportunity, really," Callaway said of his 2021 season. "We had a couple guys go down, and I had to step up. I think that was the biggest thing that season and that year, and hopefully do the same this year."
A similar scenario is playing out this year following Tim Patrick's season-ending injury. Callaway hopes to be part of the solution in replacing Patrick's production this year.
"It's an opportunity for a lot of guys," Callaway said. "I know recently we lost a couple of receivers, so I know that will be a big opportunity for a whole bunch of us. I'm just hoping I'm one of the them that can be able to fill in those spots. But it's a great room, a lot of guys that are fighting for those spots."
Callaway said he was excited to receive a call from the Broncos about reuniting with Payton and said his priority in trying to make the roster is establishing reliability.
"Just consistency, being reliable," Callaway said. "Like I said, a lot of good guys on this team, it's a great receiving core. I'm an outsider coming in and just trying to fit my way in."