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Mile High Morning: Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton look to take next step in Year 2 together


The Lead

On a strong Denver defense, Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton played a crucial role.

The pair didn't start together until Week 10 against the Titans, but they proceeded to play alongside each other for the final nine weeks of the season.

In Jewell and Singleton, the Broncos had a pair of sure tacklers that combined for 291 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, two interceptions, seven passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

The Broncos brought back Singleton in free agency, and the two players now have the benefit of a complete offseason together.

"It'll be fun this year," Jewell said Friday. "I'm excited to play beside him again and actually get some reps in the preseason, get some reps in the OTAs with him and a guy that I'm going to play with."

Jewell said the chemistry the two have built has developed to the point where they're able to make non-verbal checks ahead of the play.

"It's been good so far," Jewell said. "We can do a wink and a nod and he knows when to go and I know when to switch it. It's been fun to be able to understand each other's brains and when we're going to do things."

In addition to Jewell and Singleton, the Broncos have experienced reserve players in Jonas Griffith and Justin Strnad. Denver also drafted Drew Sanders early in the third round, and the Arkansas product profiles as a pressure player in Denver's defense.

"I think we've got a lot of great guys, whether it be Jonas, Drew and Justin," Jewell said. "I think those guys are really good, and you never know what will happen with other linebackers, too, that could possibly get in there, depending on how this camp goes next week and also camp in the fall. We'll see how it goes, but right now there's a good amount of depth back there with guys I would trust."

Below the Fold

Third-year safety Caden Sterns recorded an impressive interception during Thursday's OTA practice, and Head Coach Sean Payton said Sterns is among the Broncos' players who could use momentum to take the proverbial next step.

"Look, the next step is that cliche term," Payton said. "I hope all of them take the next step because last year's steps were not good enough. I think that he's smart, and that's a good trait to have at his position. He [also] has instincts. That was a heck of a play down the field and staying on top. For him, staying healthy and then taking a little bit of this momentum — confidence is born really out of demonstrated ability. You can hope for confidence, or say, 'I'm going to be confident,' but it's only born from demonstrated ability. Plays like that — you guys have all seen a preseason game where someone excels and then all of a sudden, you have a different player. You can point to a certain moment. He's one of those type of players."

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