ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In a little more than a week, Jurrell Casey will strap on his pads and take the field against Tennessee Titans for the first time in his career.
After a nine-year career in Tennessee, Casey will make his first start as a Bronco against his former team — but he's not focused on the past.
"Emotions are high ... but at the end of the day what happened in Tennessee is in the past," Casey said. "I'm ready to get going with the Broncos and go on a run for this championship season. The first game is going to be hype. You're going to see me out there making a ton of plays. ... It's going to be a little bit more juice coming this game."
As the Broncos game-plan for their Week 1 opponent, Casey will aim to be a resource for his new coaches and teammates in Denver.
"I'm pretty sure that's going to come as soon as we get started next week," said Casey when asked if he'd spend extra time with the Broncos' coaches. "First meeting in the week, we're going to sit down and start hammering out things, what they need tips on, what they need help on. Whatever they ask me for, the knowledge I remember, I'll make sure I give it to them."
Casey will definitely remember former teammate Derrick Henry, who rushed for a league-high 1,540 yards last season and had the highest yards per carry average of any back with at least 200 carries. As the Titans made a late surge to the playoffs, Henry became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games.
"It's when he gets rolling," Casey said of what makes Henry effective. "Once those wheels get trucking there's no stopping this guy. The biggest thing's going to be up front building a wall. Don't let him have any holes to be able to just go downhill hitting them. As long as we can keep him moving sideways, running sideline to sideline, we'll be in great shape."
The Broncos found success against Henry last year, as he rushed for just 15 carries and 28 yards in Denver's 16-0 win. After that loss, though, a different Titans team finished the season. With Ryan Tannehill under center, the Titans rebounded from a 2-4 start to finish 9-7 and reach the AFC Championship game.
Casey was a key part of that team, as he recorded 44 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in the regular season. He also added a forced fumble and 2.5 sacks in the postseason.
The Titans, though, dealt Casey to Denver this offseason for a seventh-round pick. On Sept. 14, he'll aim to prove he's still a top-tier player. With five consecutive Pro Bowl selections, there's a good chance he does just that.
KIND WORDS FROM THE VET
Casey praised a pair of young players Thursday as he was asked about second-year defensive end Dre'Mont Jones and rookie Lloyd Cushenberry III.
Jones recorded 3.5 sacks as a rookie and was named the AFC's Week 16 Defensive Player of the Week.
"He's looking nice out there," Casey said. "He's fluid. He understands how to play the game. His reaction time is unbelievable. He reminds me of my younger self when I could move twitchy like that. … I think he's going to definitely take his game to another level. Working together and just having him out there, being able to work side-by-side with him has definitely been a joy."
Cushenberry, meanwhile, has taken the majority of the reps at center in recent days.
"He kind of reminds me of the Pouncey brothers — the quickness, the twitchiness, the way he just flows off the ball," Casey said. "He's very quick. He's an athletic guy. Most centers, I can hit them one way, come back another way and they can't keep up. This kid has actually been keeping up. He's been making the blocks. He's been understanding. He's been working in cahoots with the O-line. He's definitely filled in right away. Now, like I said, the same way as 'Sosa' [McTelvin Agim], they have to get their game experience. As the season goes on, you're definitely going to see him become one of the All-Pros hopefully. The kid, he's ready to go also."
Mike and Maurkice Pouncey have a combined 12 Pro Bowl selections between them.
'I'M CHEERING FOR HIM'
The Broncos agreed to trade cornerback Isaac Yiadom to the Giants for a seventh-round pick on Wednesday, and Head Coach Vic Fangio reflected on the decision following Thursday's practice.
"I don't know that it was anything in particular," said Fangio when asked why Yiadom's tenure in Denver didn't work out. "I just think it was a good opportunity. We have guys there [at the cornerback position]. It was a good opportunity to give Ike a fresh start back on the East Coast. I'll be his biggest cheerleader. I hope he makes us look bad and he's a great player there. I'm cheering for him. It just didn't work out here to the extent that he wanted it to, and we wanted it to. I'm hoping the new surroundings benefit him and his career."
The Broncos still have a host of players — including De'Vante Bausby, Davontae Harris, Michael Ojemudia, Duke Dawson Jr. and Essang Bassey — that could fill the team's No. 3 cornerback role.
LOOKING FOR MORE
Diontae Spencer put together a strong season in 2019 as he was named a Pro Bowl alternate as a returner, but Fangio is looking for more in 2020.
"He's got to score some touchdowns," Fangio said. "He came close last year on a couple. He's got to take it to the next level and take one or two to the house. I'll take one. Then when he gets one, I'll take two. He's got to — he had some really good returns last year, but he needs to take them to the house."
Spencer averaged 8 yards per punt return, which ranked seventh in the NFL among returners with at least 20 attempts. His season-long punt return was a 42-yarder against the Titans, while he posted a 60-yard kick return against the Packers.