ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — At Englewood High School's Randy Penn Stadium, Jerry Jeudy watched kids at his football camp and was reminded of himself.
He may not have been able to go to a camp like this when he was younger, but he could see the same love for the game and freewheeling spirit that helped form the foundation for him to become the football player he is today.
With training camp approaching, that spirit will once again inhabit Jeudy, who is now hoping to evolve into one of the game's elite receivers. Under the watchful eye of Head Coach Sean Payton, he'll certainly have that chance, as Payton previously said he's committed to propelling Jeudy to that point.
"He's explosive," Payton said on June 8. "I remember him coming out [of college] and certainly seeing film of him playing. Now, having a chance to work directly with him, he's very explosive. He's got extremely loose hips, which allows him to transition well. There're the nuances of the game, relative to landmarks, and the exactness of the passing game. All of those things, he's been really eager to learn. I enjoy working with him.
"I told him, 'Hey, I'm going to be on you and we're going to get the most out of you.' He's continued to get stronger. Couple times, he's catching the ball with his pinkies together instead of his thumbs together. We'll correct some of that, but he's someone that certainly will be a big part of what we do."
To have that careful instruction from the head coach — the brain behind several of the best offenses in league history — should pay dividends, as Jeudy said Wednesday at his camp.
"He coaches me in every way he can," Jeudy said. "Every little detail that he's seen me mess up on, he gives me his opinion on it and thinking of ways for me to get better. I appreciate having a coach that's that dedicated in really helping me to become the best player I can be. …
"He's a great offensive-minded guy. So him just putting players in the right position and just so they can be successful with different alignments, moving me around and stuff like that, and also just having the other guys around me that it's hard to just focus on me, because we got KJ [Hamler], we got 'Court' [Courtland Sutton], Tim Patrick, we got the running backs. … It's going to be a lot of pieces that you have to focus on that he knows what to do with."
The Broncos' highly regarded collection of weapons, unfortunately, has struggled to be healthy all at the same time. Sutton missed most of the 2020 season, Jeudy was sidelined for a while in 2021 and Patrick missed all of the 2022 season.
With Tim Patrick making his return to the field this offseason, the trio is expected to hit the field together in 2023, and Jeudy said that their impact together would be significant.
"It means a lot," Jeudy said. "We haven't been all on the same field in [how long], since my rookie year? So you know, it's been a tough few years. But having everybody on the field at the same time, it's going to be big, because I know what we're capable of, and they know what we're capable of. So having everybody on the same field is going to be a hard group of guys to stop."
Jeudy, who was also vocal last year in supporting Russell Wilson amid external criticism during a difficult season, said he believes in his quarterback's ability to rebound from the previous and return to the caliber of play that made him a nine-time Pro Bowler in Seattle.
"Just his mentality," Jeudy said of what he's seen from Wilson that gives him confidence. "Russ is a soldier. So just the way he handles his business, the way he handles situations, I just know the type of guy he is and the stuff that he can overcome. In the situations like that, that don't put no fear into a man's heart. And I know that this year, he got a big year coming ahead."
For Jeudy himself, he said he's hoping to simply take the way he finished the 2022 season — 562 yards from scrimmage on 40 touches with three touchdowns — and pick up where he left off.
"The biggest thing, really, for me is just consistency," Jeudy said. "I know what I'm capable of doing, and I'm capable of playing at a high level. It showed the last six games, and the only thing for now is just bringing them last six games into the new year and just starting off strong and staying consistent."
With the guidance and trust in place from the coaching staff, the Broncos are counting on him to do that — and if that's the case, Jeudy will probably feel like those kids playing pickup football once again.