ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Courtland Sutton was still in high school when Peyton Manning arrived in Denver, and he was in the midst of his redshirt freshman season at SMU when Manning helped guide the Broncos to a Lombardi Trophy.
There are plenty of Broncos staff members, though, who walked the halls of UCHealth Training during the Manning era. And, in the early days of Russell Wilson's tenure with the Broncos, it seems Sutton and his teammates will get to experience a similar standard.
As the Broncos start their voluntary offseason program, it's clear the energy — and, in turn, the expectations — has returned to old heights.
"We all can feel it," Sutton said Tuesday. "The juice is just different. I wasn't around when Peyton came or was here, but from what I'm hearing from everyone who was here when Peyton was here, the juice and the energy is pretty similar, knowing we have a guy that has been at the top of that mountain before, has won a Super Bowl before, [who] does know what it's like to be at the highest level for his position and to lead a team to a Super Bowl.
"Everyone in the building understands the expectation, the standards, are being risen to everyone's best — from the cooks to the equipment guys, video — everyone in the building understands that we have to operate at a different level, operate at a different standard. It's Russ, plus Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett and the new coaching staff. Everyone is bringing that new juice, that new energy into the building. I think everyone is buying into it and understanding what the standard is."
The impact of Wilson's presence is not limited to the offensive side of the football, as safety Justin Simmons said he's motivated defensive players, as well.
"There's no denying the different energy and vibe in the building," Simmons said. "The confidence that the guys are walking around with. And so, it's great. Having a guy like that that can do that just with his presence is exciting."
Sutton, though, said the minute details of the coming weeks and months will be critical as the Broncos aim to capitalize on the newly present energy and excitement.
"For us to go out and perform at our best," Sutton said. "That's all that we can say. Stack these days, make OTAs count, making our meeting time count and when training camp rolls around, making all of those days count. We can't skip any stages. We've got a new offense, new coaching staff, new quarterback. For the most part, all of that is new to us. So all of that is going to be important for us to have the success we want to have.
"Nothing's going to be given to us because we have a lot of names on the roster. It's on us to be able to go and put the work in, day in and day out, so at the end of the day we can look up and be where we want to be.
"… Everyone wants to be at the top of the mountain holding the Lombardi Trophy and being world champions."