How Broncos rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy is ‘hitting his stride’ – NFL Nation
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Roughly two months ago, after he dropped two passes in his highly anticipated NFL debut, Jerry Jeudy promised that “failure is growth.”
Seven games, 26 catches, two touchdowns and one 100-yard receiving game later, the Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver has kept that promise. And a promising second half of the season remains.
“Jerry is hitting his stride,” Broncos quarterback Drew Lock said Sunday. “He’s asserting himself in that wide receiver room and in the NFL. … Maybe earlier in the year, yeah, he runs some pretty crisp and some pretty clean routes, but Jerry is getting physical. He’s doing his job extremely well right now and he’s playing really, really hard.”
Jeudy showed himself to be a rookie starter almost from the first day of training camp, even drawing raves from veterans usually slow to compliment rookies, such as safety Kareem Jackson. But there were the drops in the opener, drops that could have turned what became a two-point loss into a win. Then Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Jeudy had six of his seven receptions as well as 107 of his 125 receiving yards in the second half.
Four of his catches in Atlanta went for at least 18 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown catch, and he also drew two pass interference penalties. He is now fourth among the NFL’s rookie receivers with 484 yards.
“He’s made really good strides here in the last couple weeks — two or three games,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “I like how Jerry has been playing. I like where he’s headed. He’s been practicing better and it translates to the game. I think he’s doing a good job. His arrow is definitely up and he’s what we thought we got when we drafted him.”
Before the NFL’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols limited the Broncos players’ access to the team’s complex for medical treatments, the weight room and practices, Jeudy was ever-present in the building. Several veteran players had commented in training camp and early in the season that they would arrive thinking they were getting a head start only to find Jeudy already there.
They would often see Jeudy watching game video, including in the cafeteria.
Lock and the coaches have said they wanted to see the quietly intense Jeudy be more assertive and vocal in practice, to step forward. They’ve said in recent weeks that they’ve seen evidence of it.
“Just my energy, my leadership and the way I go about my business,” said Jeudy of what he’s improved on. “I’m just tired of losing. I just want to do everything I can to make the team better as a whole.”
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“One thing you’ll see when you watch his film is that Jerry plays extremely hard,” Lock said. “It’s one of those things where if he does make a mistake, it’s never not at 100 miles per hour and 100 percent. I’m proud of him.”
The Broncos certainly expect a bigger second half from Jeudy, even with four of the league’s top 15 scoring defenses remaining on the schedule — Miami (fourth), Kansas City (sixth), New Orleans (14th) and Carolina (T-15th).
Jeudy showed veteran savvy on his touchdown catch Sunday, the kind of subtle move the Broncos want to see more of over the next eight games. On a third-and-5 from the Falcons’ 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Jeudy sprinted away from the line of scrimmage while waving his hand as if he were just going to sprint up the sideline, but he stopped at the 5-yard line to make the catch.
He quickly cut toward the middle of the field to run in for the score.
“I just threw my hand up to make the DB feel like I was running the go route,” Jeudy said. “That’s something creative I’ve been thinking about with my route running.”