In this edition of "Rookie Diaries," third-round pick Lloyd Cushenberry III offers us a first-person look at his rookie season in Denver. During the inevitable ups and downs of his first year with the Broncos, Cushenberry will reflect on big moments, defining plays and his growth as a player and person.
In this installment, Cushenberry reflects on a loss to the Steelers, where he needs to improve and what it will be like to play against Tom Brady's Buccaneers in Week 3.
It's never easy, losing. But that's just the league. You're going to have wins and losses. You hope to win every game, but there's a lot of good teams around the league. Right now, all I can do is try to control what I can control. That's the way I play. And this past Sunday, I didn't play too well. That's something that I've got to do better.
Obviously going against a team like Pittsburgh, they're not going to beat themselves. They're very disciplined. They're a veteran team on the defensive end — really on both sides of the ball. But me looking back at the film and really just the feeling I had after the game, I've just got to go out and be more physical, stop thinking so much and just play ball. Sunday, I just did a lot of things technique-wise that I've been working on in practice, and I've just got to put it together in a game. I've been pretty hard on myself these past few days, but now we've watched the film as a group, as a unit, and we've flushed it, and now we're on to Tampa Bay.
I made a vow to myself that I'm going to be better and take it upon myself to challenge myself and be accountable for the group. I've got to look in the mirror and get ready for this Sunday and play a lot better than I did against the Steelers. I look forward to this week and moving on from that, being the player that I know I am and have been in the past and just continue to show that I can play at this level.
Coach Fangio said this week he hopes that I can learn from this game, and I definitely agree. Everything that goes on this season, I'm just going to take it as a learning experience. Hopefully I can have a long career and just look back on it and just think about the things I've learned over the years. I'm going to continue to try to play hard and be accountable for my teammates and try to get my job done. But definitely, this past Sunday was a learning experience for me personally. I want to take it personal to be better this week. I promise I will.
I won't chalk the struggles up to being a rookie, though. Before the first game, Jerry Jeudy and I had a conversation. We were just saying we're going to go out there and prove that the rookie title doesn't really matter. We're all men out there. We all play the game of football, so we plan to just go out there and show what we can do.
Playing a game against Tom Brady this weekend will be crazy. When I was growing up, I remember watching Super Bowl XXXIX between the Patriots and Eagles. I don't remember the details or anything, but I just remember watching that with my family. That's around the age when I kind of really started to get into football. He's been in the league for a while. It's going to be kind of surreal just watching him, seeing him on the field, going against my team. It's going to be crazy, but at the end of the day, I can't focus on that. I'm not going against him. I've got my own job to do, and they've got guys on the defensive side of the ball that I've got to take care of. I'm not too worried about what Tom Brady does. I know our defense is going to show up, and it's on us as an offensive line and as an offense to show up on our end.
Drew Lock may be out this week, but it doesn't really change anything for us up front no matter who's back there behind us. We've still got to do our job. But me personally, I'm just looking forward to bouncing back from this past week. I didn't play good at all, in my opinion. I've got to be better for the whole team. Beyond that, hopefully we can come out with a win.
These past few games, we've been right there and had a chance to win the game. We've got to finish. I guess it's just a habit — you've got to build it. And I think once we get the first win, we'll just continue to build on it and just continue to stack them up. That's all we need is that first one. We'll just keep growing from there.