ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kicker Wil Lutz earned his first AFC Special Teams Player of the Month award on Thursday morning, but words of affirmation from inside linebacker Alex Singleton made the day even more meaningful for the Pro Bowl kicker.
"Wil's the man," Singleton said after Thursday's practice. "I think sometimes a lot of kickers, they can be a little bit quirky and not really full locker room guys, but our specialists are the best dudes. It's good to have him, and we trust him with everything."
Lutz said Singleton's praise was the best compliment Singleton has ever given him and explained the balance between fun and hard work that the Broncos' specialists aim to strike.
"It's important as specialists, our job is different," Lutz said. "We like to have fun, but we also take our job very serious. Our work throughout the week is judged off our performance on the weekends."
In November, the trio of Lutz, holder/punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Mitchell Fraboni has delivered. Lutz connected on all 11 of his field-goal attempts, though his most impactful kicks came in the fourth quarter of Denver's games against Buffalo and Minnesota. Lutz made a 36-yard attempt as time expired to beat the Bills in windy Buffalo on "Monday Night Football," then followed it up by making a career-best five field goals against Minnesota in Denver's 21-20 win.
Lutz attributed credit for the award to his teammates and said their stellar performance in November is the result of dedication and attention to detail during practice.
"It's really cool," Lutz said of receiving the honor. "It's a unit award for sure. Riley, Mitch, the O-line [have] been outstanding. … I'm sure [Coach Payton] would tell you he'd rather be kicking extra points, but all that aside, it's great. Hard work pays off, and the three of us have been working really hard to be able to help this team, and I think we've been able to do that."
Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica led off his weekly press conference by giving Lutz and his unit a shoutout and extended his praise to the entirety of the field-goal unit.
"He's done a tremendous job," Kotwica said of Lutz. "The thing about Wil is he'd be the first to tell you, that's not just an individual [award], that's the whole group. … [I'm] just really happy with that group, and I'm looking forward to having more opportunities to help us win games."
An NFC Special Teams Player of the Month while a member of the New Orleans Saints, Lutz said he's looking forward to kicking in domes in the Broncos' three upcoming road games, though he said he's happy that his past month has helped dispel the notion that he is primarily a dome kicker.
Kotwica said the key to continuing Lutz's success over this upcoming stretch of games will be the special teams unit's ability to replicate the process that has proven essential to Denver's five-game winning streak.
"[Wil] is in a groove, and he has done a really nice job," Kotwica said. "We just want to keep the process going and what he feels comfortable with and just continue to put points on the board."
JOSEPH SAYS INTENTIONALITY IN PRACTICE HAS BEEN CRUCIAL TO BRONCOS' TAKEAWAY SPREE
On Thursdays, Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph has made a habit of showing his defensive players TV copies of their game tape. Joseph said the TV copy — which players may not always see — can provide a helpful slow-motion look at what they're doing to force turnovers. During the Broncos' five-game winning streak, there has been plenty for the games' broadcasters to highlight in the Denver defensive performances — takeaways chief among them.
The Broncos recorded five takeaways against Kansas City, four against Buffalo, three against Minnesota and three against Cleveland, leading to commanding margins in the turnover battle in each Denver win.
"It's been fun to watch," Joseph said. "Guys just take to it in practice and in games, and it's working for us. Hopefully it continues."
Joseph pinpointed the Broncos' dedication to generating turnovers, from practice all the way to game day, as the reason behind the rash of takeaways.
"What's different with this group, man, is they're intentional with it every single day," Joseph said. "You have teams you coach and you kind of coach taking the ball away, punching the ball, ripping the ball out. But these guys are intentional with it, even in practice. No one goes by an opportunity to get the ball, even as a pass rusher. If they win, they want the ball.
"That's what we've taught forever, but some teams take to it and some teams don't, but this team has. Once you get it rolling and they start watching themselves [get] two, three, four a game, it's contagious."