With the rain away and the Broncos returned to the practice field at UCHealth Training Center for Day 12 of training camp. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Isaiah Burse's rookie season was an up-and-down affair. He took control of the punt return competition early on and proceeded to keep the job for much of the 2014 season, but was waived in December. However, the team kept him in Denver on the practice squad and now he's preparing for his second year with a different outlook.
"Obviously I wouldn't be here if I didn't have the talent," he said. "I'm just being more confident in things I do out there. There's a whole bunch of Hall of Famers on this team—future Hall of Famers, in my eyes—and [I'm] just watching them play every day and learning from them and then [it's] just knowing your worth out here and knowing what you can do. It's more confidence carrying over this year and I feel way more comfortable and I'm just excited."
Burse looks back on his 2014 season as a learning experience. Not many rookies get the opportunity to start with the punt return position from the get-go and even with how it turned out, he's optimistic about turning opportunities into big plays.
A big part of that mindset was the support from his teammates, who told him to keep his head up and to keep churning his feet forward toward his goal. Months later during his second training camp, Burse is focused on analyzing the intricacies of how he can improve, mostly from watching his tape from each day of practice.
"We'll go to [the] one-on-ones period and I'm just like, 'This period, I want to have good releases, to work on my releases this period. I want to catch everything this period, even the tough balls. I want—on certain routes, like a dig route or something—I want to attack the ball more, or on a hook route, I want to attack the ball more.'"
Pointing to the cameras set up in the towers on the north, south and west sides of the practice fields, he added: "That's the good thing about this game. You've got cameras everywhere so you can watch the film and see where you messed up and I always go by seeing it.
"After practice, it's never as good as you think [and] it's never as bad as you think. You look on film and you've got to correct your mistakes," Burse said. "Certain stuff like that, I look on film like, 'Ah, man. I didn't have too good of a period,' so the next day I focus on that. Or I'll stay after practice and work on that, just so when the next time comes around, I'm ready. I'm prepared and that's just every day. Every day you're not going to be perfect but you want to get as close as you can."
Another change for Burse in this year's training camp as opposed to last year's is that he sheared off his long locks in January.
Years earlier, Burse had told his mom half-jokingly that he'd cut his hair if he made it to the NFL. However, he didn't expect his mother to remember.
"It was halfway through the season and my mom called me," he said. "'Hey, so are you going to cut your hair off? You remember what you said, right? Are you going to be a man of your word or what's up?'"
So, true to his word, he kept his promise and cut his hair on Jan. 1, 2015.
A new year has brought Isaiah Burse a new look, new confidence and a new perspective for his second season.