ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Jerry Jeudy, for one, is glad the Denver Broncos are in the midst of a quarterback competition.
It helps him maintain focus as he works to cut down on the dropped passes that plagued him during his rookie season in 2020.
While fans are picking sides — or praying that Aaron Rodgers arrives sometime this summer — Jeudy figures it benefits him to catch passes from both Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater during OTAs.
“Both of the guys have a different type of spiral and air to the ball," Jeudy said. "Drew has more of a hard ball and Teddy is more of a floater.
"You just have to adjust to the certain way they throw the ball. You have to focus on each person and catching the ball when it comes out of their hands.”
Jeudy, the former Alabama star and 15th overall pick in last year’s NFL draft, caught 52 passes for 856 yards and three touchdowns, well shy of expectations.
Regarded as the best route runner to come out of college in at least a decade, Jeudy proved his hands weren’t quite as ready for the NFL spotlight.
He had two crucial drops in a season-opening loss to Tennessee and dropped a half-dozen passes in a 19-16 loss to the Chargers in Week 16.
Coach Vic Fangio declared afterward that he hoped that would be a “defining moment” in Jeudy's career. Jeudy responded with a season-high 140-yard game against the Raiders in Week 17 that included a 92-yard TD, the longest pass play in the league in 2020.
Jeudy told The Associated Press in February that his bounce-back game against the Raiders helped him clear his mind heading into the offseason.
Jeudy said he was often too eager to get downfield and make the play and didn’t first secure the ball.
“I’m so quick to catch and run to hurry up and make a play instead of catching first, then run,” he said. “That’s mostly what is. Just trying to make a play too fast and not focusing on the bigger picture, which is catching the ball first.”
There's been no hint of that so far this year.
During 7-on-7 drills this week, Jeudy consistently burst through Denver's beefed-up secondary — which includes Alabama teammate, and this year's top pick, cornerback Patrick Surtain II — to haul in passes from either quarterback and pull away from defenders in futile pursuit.
“He's just adding on from last year,” cornerback Bryce Callahan said. "His releases are looking great and his routes are looking crispy. He’s catching the ball. It’s all looking good.”
Better than good, actually.
“I think he’s in a far better place than he was last year at this time," Fangio said. "I think a big thing that happened with Jerry — like I told you guys back when it happened — in the 15th game last year when he had some drops, I thought it was going to be a defining moment in his career and how he played the following week.
"Then in our last game, he had a very good game and caught a bunch of balls for a bunch of yards. I think that was a very defining moment in his career. I see a more focused and more diligent receiver on the details. He knows he can’t slack. I see a much more mature guy right now.”
Some of his growth is natural, some of it is hard work.
“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into your first year of doing something. This is my second year and I feel like I have learned a lot from my first year," Jeudy said. “I know how to overcome whatever I had in past years to make this year better.”
Wide receiver Tim Patrick, who didn't drop a single pass last season, said he, too, sees a much different Jeudy in 2021.
“He wants to be great really bad,” Patrick said after practice Wednesday. “Going into Year 2, I've said it already, Jerry Jeudy is really good. Like really, really good. So, I think for him it's just all mental at this point.
"He knows he can get open against anybody in this league and now it's just at the point that he just has to put it on film and remind them who he is, and that's it.”
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