The Broncos have had 11 players, including wide receiver Kendall Hinton, play quarterback since Peyton Manning's retirement. With Russell Wilson, the carousel can finally stop.
The Ringer’s Danny Heifetz discussed the great, reliable quarterbacks Denver has been spoiled by in the past, and how the Broncos have that again in Wilson. No. 3 has changed the talent level of the quarterback position as well as the overall mindset of the team, Heifetz wrote after visiting Broncos training camp.
"The It factor is a tired cliché, but around Wilson you are not allowed to be tired, nor can you avoid clichés," Heifetz wrote. "And so with Wilson, not only is Denver getting a massive upgrade at quarterback, but also a massive upgrade in team culture. If attitude reflects leadership, then the Broncos' attitude will be a reflection of Russ—and all of the details that Russ obsesses over."
Wilson understands the pressure that is on him to bring the Broncos back to the playoffs, and he has held himself to that standard from the moment he first walked in the building.
"I'm just trying to raise their expectations and to raise ours," Wilson told Heifetz on Wednesday. "Our expectations have to be higher than anybody else's. People are going to doubt us throughout the season, people are going to praise us throughout the season, people are going to say this and say that. But our process on who we are and who we are trying to be and how we're going to learn and be the best version of ourselves, that's all that matters."
His intentionality and commitment to perfection has earned Wilson the respect of his teammates — particularly left tackle Garett Bolles, a reliable leader on the offensive line. Heifetz noted that Wilson will FaceTime Bolles all the time just to discuss how they should approach a certain play.
"I've blocked for a lot of quarterbacks," Bolles told Heifetz. "Having a guy like that changes the demeanor of everyone. … Michael Jordan, Kobe [Bryant], Steph Curry, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Simone Biles … [Wilson's] mindset is the same as all those people."
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New free agent wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, who signed with the team on Thursday, made a standout play in practice on his first catch with the Broncos. Running a route with the option to either pull up or continue down the field, Shepherd took off — and quarterback Josh Johnson hit him with a perfectly thrown 50-yard bomb downfield for a touchdown.
"It's not a bad start to get adjusted being with the guys and them seeing what I can do," Shepherd said after practice. "It was cool to get here and make a play on the first day."
Despite being new to the team, Shepherd had some familiarity with the offense because he played with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett for two years in Green Bay.
"There's a lot of similarities between the offenses," Shepherd said. "And it's really cool you have a quarterback like Russell come in here and add a little flavor to it."