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Broncos on offense, defense relieved to have Keenum’s veteran presence

Knowing the QB position is not fluid is making a lot of players on both sides of the ball pretty happy.

Aric DiLalla,

Good morning, Broncos Country!

The Broncos hosted a panel of USGA golfers and tournament organizers this week to preview the upcoming 39th annual U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor, giving the football players a chance to swing their clubs with some of the best.

So it wasn’t unusual for tight end Jeff Heuerman to have a golf analogy when euphemistically describing the quarterback situation the past two years as “challenging.”

“I guess it would be kind of like playing golf and not knowing any of your yardages and kind of guessing,” Heuerman said, noting it was always a “week-to-week thing” knowing which QB might play. “It was definitely challenging.”

So add Heuerman to the list of players acknowledging now that the post-Peyton Manning era kind of sucked (my words, not theirs) if you were expected to be a receiving threat in Denver’s offense.

“I think the bigger thing is just the veteran quarterback presence,” the fourth-year tight end added. “We haven’t really had a whole lot of that the past couple of years. Just having the veteran quarterback presence and how he leads and how he manages things is huge.”

That’s pretty important for Heuerman, the former third-round pick who has yet to really live up to his hype and is looking at a critical season in terms of his future in Denver as well as the NFL.

As the default veteran in the tight end room, Heuerman knows he needs to have a big year without injury hassles to get the starting job. He believes having Case Keenum leading the offense will be a big step toward getting in the playing rhythm he needs.

“I think just getting into a rhythm and getting into a groove,” he said, emphasizing that playing with three different quarterbacks made it “kind of tough sometimes” to find that groove. “Hopefully with Case we can get into a good rhythm and build on that week to week. Hopefully it will take us deep.”

Speaking on NFL Total Access, Keenum also noted his excitement in coming to Denver.

“I’m just really excited because the GM and head coach really, really, really wanted me,” he said. “They really, really wanted me to be their guy and that feels good.”

It feels good to players not just on the Broncos offense but defense too.

Darian Stewart, who’s impacted more indirectly by the quarterback play, also weighed in on his views of last season.Darian Stewart, who’s impacted more indirectly by the quarterback play, also weighed in on his views of last season.

“I think we’re 100 percent over it,” he said.

He may not be talking specifically about the quarterback, but I doubt there’s a member of the Broncos defense who isn’t also thrilled to have a better chance at playing aggressive and fast on defense because they won’t have to navigate back-to-back-to-back three-and-outs all game.

Noting that John Elway added some necessary pieces to “compete and win the AFC West,” Stewart is perhaps most excited about the direct impact the addition of former Redskins safety Su’a Cravens will have next season.

“[Cravens] has great energy and he seems like a smart football player,” Stewart said, adding that he was “a good addition” to the secondary. “He’s putting in the work every day with us. For me, as a leader, it’s important for me to help bring him along. I’m willing to do that and he’s willing to learn.”

Stewart added that he has no qualms about helping the young guys - even though they’ll eventually take over some or all of his playing role.

“If you want to win, you’re going to help your young guys. That’s how I look at it, and I’m always willing to help anyway I can with those guys and give them any information I can,” he said. “It doesn’t do me any good just holding things back. We don’t get better as a team. Me helping them as best as I can, along with the coaches, is going to make us that much better.”

Word on the Broncos street (via Shasta77 who moves around in some “in-the-know” circles) is that Joe Woods is excited about what his secondary can do with Cravens in the mix. Stewart corroborated that notion as well.

“There’s going to be multiple safeties on the field,” Stewart said. “It’s good for us as a group. It helps us learn every position and it’s challenging us. I think it’s going to be a big help for us.”

But Stewart was also really happy about the Broncos’ first-round draft pick, pass rusher Bradley Chubb.

“Great pick. I think he’s going to boost this defense,” Stewart said. “I look forward to being in the top five again in all categories. He was a great pick, and he’s going to help us out a lot.”

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