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Return of Shane Ray could ignite already great defense

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To picture what this defense will look like with Ray’s pass-rushing ability opposite Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett is like dumping a gallon of kerosene on a raging inferno.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

The excitement for Shane Ray was palpable.

Fans and members of the Denver Broncos could not wait to see what the third year had in store for the talented pass rusher from Missouri. By all accounts he was the player to watch with the retirement of DeMarcus Ware. The consensus was that Ray would live up to the hype and the defense wouldn’t miss a beat. As the start of training camp inched closer and closer the excitement grew.

When Ray’s injury was announced in late July you could feel the emotion and the panic. It was the news itself but also what it meant to the Broncos. They’re not exactly loaded with pass rushers and there was major concern this would set the defense back. There also was the disappointment for Ray. Two practices into training camp and Ray tears a ligament in his left wrist. The initial prognosis was six-eight weeks, with the hope he could return sooner. When Ray was placed on injured reserve designated to return in early September, those initial sentiments returned. Of course, it didn’t help that Shaquil Barrett also was injured.

By the time the season started, we had no idea what to expect from the defense. You hope for the best but know to keep the expectations somewhere in the middle. Four weeks later, Denver’s defense is the best in the NFL and it appears the loss of Ray was greatly exaggerated (kidding). In most cases, when you’re the best at something, there isn’t much room to grow off of that. That’s not the case with the Broncos defense; especially the pass rush where Denver sits 14th in sacks with 10.

On that front, earlier this week Ray tweeted that the screws are out of his wrist. If you follow him on Twitter, you’ve seen him countdown the days until his return. It’s beyond evident he wanted to get back on the field yesterday, and he should be able to in the next week or so with his first game being Monday Night Football on Oct. 30 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The hype train was at full capacity for Ray prior to the season, and there was no doubt he would live up to it. After four games and the Broncos holding the best defense in the NFL, that initial excitement has reached new heights. To picture what this defense will look like with Ray’s pass-rushing ability opposite Von Miller and Barrett is like dumping a gallon of kerosene on a raging inferno. Opposing offenses best prepare to get severely burned.

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AFC West Tracks

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