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Mile High Morning: Why Michael Ojemudia's offseason play has been eye-opening for his teammates

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The Lead

About two weeks ago, a Broncos quarterback uncorked a deep ball down the center of the field and third-year cornerback Michael Ojemudia stretched out to make the tough interception. Yet as dazzling a play as it was, it's becoming more and more routine to Ojemudia's teammates.

During OTAs, Pat Surtain II was asked to select one cornerback who has caught his attention so far this offseason, and it didn't take long for him to pick.

"OJ — Ojemudia," Surtain said. "He's made plays throughout these OTAs. He's been ballin'. He's been showing that he's capable of making those big-time plays. He's been showing out these whole OTAs, so I'll say him."

Veteran cornerback Ronald Darby said Monday that he also has been impressed with Ojemudia's playmaking ability.

"He comes out ready to work each day," Darby said. "He pays attention in meetings, asks questions and goes out there and makes plays every day."

Amid competition at cornerback behind those two expected starters, Ojemudia could be one young player who's flying under the radar. He made impressive plays as a rookie in 2020, but entered the 2021 season on injured reserve and only played in two games.

He made his lone start of the year in the season finale with both Surtain and Darby out. In that game, Ojemudia was the most-targeted defender by Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, but six of those 13 targets fell incomplete and only Justin Simmons allowed a lower passer rating in coverage, according to Pro Football Reference.

"I thought that he played outstanding when we played the Chiefs at home in the last game of the year," Simmons said on May 23. "I think it's just a testament to his work ethic and the things that he is doing right. You never know when your number is going to be called, and honestly, too, even out here in OTA's. You're in film and you get so caught up in, 'I'm right here, right now,' and you get caught up in the depth charts of training camp and things like that. You're not competing just for a spot on the Broncos' team. That tape hits all 31 teams. … I think that's kind of like the mindset that OJ bought into. 'I'm not going to get discouraged and when I'm out there, I'm going to go make plays.' I think that's the kind of mindset that you have to have, and obviously it's worked out for him. I thought he had a great day today, too."

Below the Fold

Ojemudia's run of strong play also continued through Monday's Day 1 of mandatory minicamp, as The Athletic's Nick Kosmider notes. In his practice report, Kosmider details how the team's red-zone work is progressing.

"Wilson ended his day by threading a needle for a touchdown pass to Albert Okwuegbunam in the back of the end zone, but that and an explosive run by Javonte Williams in the first-team offense's opening red zone period were among the few highlights that didn't belong to the defensive side of the ball," Kosmider wrote. "Whether it was Mike Purcell, Bradley Chubb or Dre'Mont Jones batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia, K'Waun Williams and Damarri Mathis knocking balls away in the end zone or the entire group converging to stuff a goal-line run at the 1-yard line, the defense showed flashes of the unit that has allowed opponents to score touchdowns on only 45.6 percent of their red zone trips since 2019, by far the stingiest mark in the league during that span."

The Unclassifieds

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