One offensive player who has been getting universal praise from coaches, teammates, and even some defensive teammates throughout the offseason and training camp is center Lloyd Cushenberry.
The Broncos' third-year center has had an up-and-down start to his NFL career. He has flashed some potential but also struggled at times which has left you wanting more out of the former third-round pick. With that said, he has started and played in 32 games during his first two seasons and could be putting it all together this upcoming season. He even has one Broncos defender calling him the “MVP” of the offensive line.
DeShawn Williams said Lloyd Cushenberry has been the MVP of the offensive line.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 9, 2022
Broncos defensive lineman DeShawn Williams was asked by reporters who he thought was the most improved player along the offensive line. The starting defensive line named third-year center Lloyd Cushenberry as the most improved player. Now, he didn’t stop there either, he continued by calling Cush the “MVP of the offensive line” and that “we’ve seen him get much better”.
“[C] Lloyd [Cushenberry]. [The] MVP of that offensive line so far is Lloyd because of his flexibility. He’s stronger, and he’s commanding the calls of the front. I think him traveling with ‘Russ’ (QB Russell Wilson) really helped and whatever the talk was about him losing his spot kind of pushed him to solidify that spot. We’ve seen him get much better.”
Williams even doubled down on his statement on Twitter when a fan suggested that he was just throwing some shade at Cushenberry. He responded to the fan by saying “That’s no shade, that’s facts. He worked his tail off this offseason and it’s showing”.
The praise for Cushenberry has been fairly universal from the defensive lineman. Nose tackle D.J. Jones joined in and praised him just the other day when he met with reporters. He said Cushenberry has stood out among the Broncos' offensive lineman so far throughout the offseason and camp.
Also, Jones is now the third @broncos DL who says Lloyd Cushenberry has stood out among the offensive linemen in camp.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) August 16, 2022
Even his fellow offensive lineman are noticing the changes and improvements to Cushenberry’s game. Starting left tackle Garett Bolles was asked about Cush as well and he told reporters how proud he is of him and called him “one of the best young centers in the game”.
“‘Cush’ (C Lloyd Cushenberry)—I was really proud of him. We met as a starting five yesterday, and I just want to tell you how proud I am of him. Especially him—he’s grown up so much from being a rookie to now. He’s learned so much, making all the calls and putting us in the right position. He’s going to have a monster year. With how many calls ‘Russ’ (QB Russell Wilson) has and him picking all that up is pretty impressive. I love him dearly and am grateful for him. We have one of the best young centers in the game.”
The praise is also coming from Broncos coaches. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett who is not shy about praising his players had some pretty big praise for Cushenberry when he was asked about him early in training camp.
“It’s funny because, for a center, he’s so quiet and he doesn’t talk much. Then when he’s out there, his control and command of the offense has been really good. He understands the fronts, he understands the declarations, he understands the pass offs. He’s an unbelievably smart player and his physicality is pretty impressive, too. He’s probably having one of the hardest battles out on this field going against [DL] Mike [Purcell], going against [DT] D.J. [Jones], [DE] Dre’Mont [Jones]. There are so many people and some really good players. He is tested nonstop. Our whole offensive line is getting some great work against that d-line. I really like him understanding the system. He’s still making a run and winning all those Cahoots and stuff like that. He’s doing a fine job, and he’s really good.”
You hear this sort of hype each year for a player or two and sometimes it pans out and other times it does not. Hopefully, this is one of those times where the hype continues through the regular season and proves to be true. Having him improve would greatly help the offensive line and would help improve everyone along that line.
His linemates at guard, Dalton Risner, and Quinn Meinerz look to be on the verge of solid seasons in this zone blocking scheme. Cushenberry improving into a solid center would just help elevate their games even more. If these three play well, the Broncos' run game could be deadly when they run up the middle.
If all this hype is true, we can credit quarterback Russell Wilson for at least some of that improvement. As DeShawn Williams mentioned, Cushenberry traveling with Wilson this offseason and working with him likely helped his development. Even Cushenberry himself talked about how much those workouts and meetings helped him out this offseason.
“It’s a 24-hour job. It’s all about winning and all about football. We go out there, it’s about comradery and being with the guys, but the main thing is about putting in work. On the field for two hours to in the classroom for another two hours, then back on the field in the evening. It’s our own little minicamp. I’m glad he invited me out because it helped get the chemistry between us. Just sitting in the meeting room—even though he’s not necessarily talking about offensive line but more with the receivers and tight ends—I get to hear some of their terminology. If I hear something on the field, I can remember it from San Diego. I’ll know what it is. It helped a lot.”
Like I said earlier, I really do hope this hype turns out to be true. I was high on Cushenberry when he entered the draft and was thrilled when he fell to the Broncos in the third round. He has yet to live up to the expectations that many had of him and center was arguably a weak spot along the offensive line. So, again, let us hope that this improvement is true and we get a damn good year out of Lloyd Cushenberry.
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