The Broncos' most indispensable rookie might not be who you expect.
That's what NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein posits; in a new article naming a pivotal rookie for each team, he selected third-round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III for Denver.
"While Jerry Jeudy or KJ Hamler would be the selection for some, getting the O-line fixed is extremely important for the overall success of the offense," Zierlein wrote. "Cushenberry has elite football intelligence and is a plus leader. He should make an immediate impact on the Broncos offense from Day 1."
Before that can happen, though, Cushenberry will first have to secure the starting role over second-year veterans Austin Schlottmann and Patrick Morris. The coaching staff has rotated each player often into the first-team offense as they assess their abilities.
"I think Cushenberry is doing fine," Head Coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. "One thing that he's got going for him that a lot of rookies don't have going for them is that he is smart. He's picking things up very well. He's calm at the line of scrimmage, as you know the center has to make a lot of calls. He excels at that. He's not a totally honed-up machine on it right now, but we expect that he will be. He's got that going for him. He's also got going for him that he played a lot of big games at LSU, especially last year where they won it all on the big stage. I think that helped him too. We're encouraged by him. It's a good battle between him and Austin and Pat."
Though there has not been any indication as to when a decision will be made, Drew Lock did say he didn't mind a wait in finding out who the starter will be.
"I think right now it's nice to be able to try all of them out," Lock said on Aug. 17. "I know that sounds weird. Working with Pat, working with Cush and working with Schlott, it's been good just flipping them in and out every single day and seeing who we're going to mesh with the best. I think if we get a lot of reps with all the guys, it'll be up to the coaches when they decide who is the one, the two and the three. We'll all have reps with every single one of them to where we'll be ready to head into a game week if it was four or five days advance notice."
Below the Fold
After an impressive start to training camp, cornerback Bryce Callahan spoke to media on Monday and discussed his return to "100-percent" health after a foot injury that kept him out the entire 2019 season. "The whole process was really frustrating last year, but me still being able to give a helping hand to my teammates made it worthwhile," Callahan said. "It made me feel a part of it still."
Though the NFL's COVID-19 testing ran into a bit of a snafu on Sunday, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills had some good news on Monday: Zero of the 23,260 tests given to players from Aug. 12-20 came back positive.