Broncos Week One: Shane Ray ready to make early impact


For too many years in Denver, the pass rush was something that was either ignored or not given enough TLC. The Broncos tried and tried again to bring in players that could provide a boost (do the names Jarvis Moss or Simeon Rice ring a bell?) but no one was able to provide a consistent pass rush until Elvis Dumervil came around in 2006 and became one of the best pass rushers in team history.

With the addition of Von Miller in 2011 came a complete shift in the way the Broncos built their team, and John Elway knew that the pass rush had to be of critical importance. Not only did he draft Von Miller, but he brought in a variety of other players including DeMarcus Ware in his massive free agency haul in 2014.

In 2015, Elway decided that wasn’t enough. He brought in Shane Ray with the team’s first round draft pick, and Ray now stands to make a significant impact as the regular season approaches.

“Now is where things count,” the rookie out of Missouri said. “Every second counts. Every down counts. We have to prepare to be as effective as we can be every chance that we get. Going out there today, my mentality even switched. It’s not preseason anymore. I have to be the most prepared that I can possibly be to help my team win. That was the mentality that the vets took and everybody else is following along really well. It’s serious. I think we’re going to be very prepared.”

The pass rush has seen a significant boost this offseason not just  from Ray, but from the improved play of 2nd year player Shaquil Barrett, a local product out of Colorado State. Both Ray and Barrett were arguably the Broncos’ most impressive players this preseason, and the numbers back it up.

Ray did what he does best in the preseason, and that is destroy plays. He led the Broncos with 11 ‘STOPS’ or plays that constitute an offensive failure in the preseason. He finished with 7 hurries and 3 sacks to go along with his 11 stops, and provided consistent play both against the run as well as the pass.

What I saw from Ray as a prospect indicated to me that he was one of the most pro-ready players in this draft and a guy who was much more than just a one-trick-pony, pass rush specialist. Ray does a great job of setting the edge against the run and getting in the backfield to make plays. He’s not only able to get in the backfield to disrupt plays, but he makes them himself.

Now, heading into his first ‘real’ NFL game, Ray knows his role, which is a backup to two of the best pass rushers in the league — Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Still, the Broncos are going to find ways to get their talented first round pick on the field. Ray knows he has to be ready, and he’s excited.

“I think it’s a lot of excitement. I feel like I’ve kind of gotten into my groove as a football player using the preseason games. Now I’m excited for the regular season to go against some of the best guys you’re going to face. I love to compete. I’m just looking forward to the opportunities to get better, play against some of the top names in the league and to help my team win.”

After a lot of really hot takes regarding Shane Ray before the draft, it looks like this young dude can flat out play. The Broncos are going to reap the benefits with one of the deepest pass rush groups in the NFL today.

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