ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Tight end Joel Dreessen, who played his high school football in Fort Morgan before playing college ball at Colorado State, returned to Colorado this offseason when he signed with the Broncos after five seasons as a Houston Texan. Dreessen discusses returning to Colorado, playing with quarterback Peyton Manning and the key to his strong start to the season.
There was a lot of talk in the offseason about your return to Colorado, where you played your high school and college football. Halfway through the season, has it been everything you expected?
"It's been a lot of work, that's for sure. But at the same time, it's also been a lot of fun. Like I said when I came here, I was looking to challenge myself. I think I've done that. It's a lot of work every single week just to prepare to play a game. It's been a lot of fun too."
In what ways has it been a lot of work for you?
"Just as far as learning a brand new offense and adjusting to new teammates and new schedules, a new way to go about the work week in the NFL. It's obviously very different from what I've done in the past, so just adjusting to that and that sort of thing."
Has there been a 'Wow' moment when it hit you that you were playing with quarterback Peyton Manning?
"Honestly it doesn't work that way. A lot of times you're just so dialed into your job and what you have to do to perform and help the team the best way you can, that you don't really get star struck or take as much time to reflect as you probably should. But no, that hasn't happened to me yet."
What did you do during 2006, when you were out of football, and what was that like for you?
"Very frustrating year. I played in a lot of games as a rookie so I didn't have any practice squad eligibility, so if a team was going to sign me, they had to put me on the roster. I spent the year, I actually moved back to Colorado and lived with Erik Pears, he was a Bronco at the time and he was my college roommate. I'd go to work out and he'd come here to work. I would go to various NFL clubs throughout the year, just working out for them, just checking on me to see if I was healthy. I sat out the whole season, didn't get a chance until Houston signed me after the season."
How much did that year away increase your appreciation for playing football?
"A lot, certainly a lot. I never took playing football for granted by any means. After spending a year out of it, nobody wanted you, you miss the little things. You miss the locker room and taping your ankles, you just miss that fight that you have to go through every single day to get through practice and get better. So it was definitely a lot of time spent being frustrated, to say the least."
You are on pace for one of the best seasons of your career. What do you think has been the key to your success this season?
"It sounds so cliché, but I literally just try to take it one day at a time. My focus today was to have a good practice today. My focus was to have a good practice today and kind of compartmentalize my day. When I'm at practice, I'm doing the best I can to practice. When I'm in meetings, I'm focused and I'm trying to learn everything I can. You've really got to kind of break your day up like that and focus on what you're doing at the time and not try to look at the big picture."
How much more difficult does having both you and fellow tight end Jacob Tamme make things for a defense?
"Well it certainly gives us a lot of flexibility offensively. Whether we want to be a one-back team or a two-back team or a three-wide team, we can get to all those things with Jacob and I. So it definitely helps our flexibility."
*Editor's Note: This Q&A story ran in the Nov. 18 Gameday program, when the Broncos hosted the San Diego Chargers.*