ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — On the Vikings’ first run play of last weekend’s season opener, Latavius Murray took a handoff and cut toward the right side of the offensive line.
Murray headed straight toward fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb, who was sealed off by tight end Kyle Rudolph.
In his first chance to make a play for his new team, Chubb couldn’t get off the block — and Murray scooted by for 20 yards.
A few plays later, though, Chubb showed a flash of his potential.
This time, with the Broncos backed up against the goal line, Chubb knifed past Rudolph and stopped Murray short.
While it’s hard to make an evaluation after just a series or two, Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods pointed to the second play as an example of what he’d prefer to see from the rookie.
And it’s not because he made a play.
“The thing with Bradley, he was really kind of a little nervous and afraid to make a mistake,” Woods said. “I was like, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to cut it lose. Don’t worry about the mistakes, we’ll fix the mistakes. You just play hard.’
“He was a little cautious early, but then after he got settled down later on in the game, I thought he played very well.”
When asked about Woods’ comment, Miller said Wednesday he doesn’t think the rookie’s play was affected by nerves. Instead, the lack of rhythm may have hurt Chubb.
“I don’t think he was nervous,” Miller said. “Bradley Chubb is the No. 5 pick and probably the best defensive player in the draft. I don’t think you get nervous. I don’t think it was nerves, it was a preseason game. I think — just my analysis on it — he felt like it was a preseason game, and he knew he wasn’t going to play too much. Usually in the real game, everybody messes up. I go out there and I let some runs break, but then next series, we’ve got to prepare to come right back and I’m a whole lot better.
“Playing one to two series is really not a lot — especially when you’re a younger rookie — to go out there and get his sea legs. He’ll be great. He’s great in practice. Practice is a great indicator of what type of player he’s going to be. It might have been nerves. It didn’t look like nerves, he played great in my eyes. We all made mistakes on Saturday, so he’ll be a whole lot better this week against Chicago.”
As the Broncos approach their regular-season opener against the Seahawks, seeing improvement will become more and more important.
For as fast as the preseason games may seem, Chubb’s heard the regular season is an entirely different situation.
“I feel like the game is going to be the same no matter what level it’s on, just the speed of the game picks up,” Chubb said after the game. “I was prepared. I knew the speed of the game was going to be a little bit faster, but I was talking to Chris [Harris Jr.] and Von and they said the preseason is nothing compared to the regular season.
“I just have to preparing and keep getting ready for the game to get faster and keep preparing myself.”