ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Russell Wilson plays the part well.
As the Denver Broncos’ new quarterback – the Great Quarterback Hope – he not only understands that he is the face of the franchise but that he is also the face of the city. The region. The Broncos Country fan base.
A certain senatorial-type decorum is required or at least recommended. Jay Cutler and Jake Plummer defied the courtesy. Wilson is not afraid to put his face out there to address his media audience by looking first, straight in the eyes, then to the left, back to the center and then the right.
Let’s Ride, he says every time at the end.
His confidence and poise appear to have matured not from a desire to cultivate a brand – although there is clearly some awareness there – but through preparation of his craft.
Wilson is known to awake in the 4 a.m. hour. He sometimes shows up at Broncos headquarters in the 5 a.m. hour. It’s no surprise to see him there on weekends.
“On the off days, when you don’t feel like working or doing anything, he’s the guy that comes up and gets your mind right for it,’’ said Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Wilson accepts and desires the responsibility of carrying a once-proud, but more recently slumping franchise to the Promised Land.
Another step in the Russell Wilson Process begins Monday, when the Broncos hold their first of 13 offseason practices. Offense vs. Defense. 11 on 11. There will be 10 OTAs (Organized Team Activities) in the next three weeks, followed by a three-session mandatory minicamp, June 13-15.
From there, better believe Wilson will host another passing session with his receivers at his San Diego-area workout facility.
Some R & R is important during the five-week break before training camp, but not too much.
The OTA practice on Monday will hardly be our first view of Wilson. At a three-day voluntary minicamp last month, his arm looked as if he was ready to pitch a complete, four-quarter game.
We have seen him throw out the first pitch of the Rockies’ season at Coors Field, sit in the front row with his famous wife at Nuggets games, watch an Avalanche playoff game from a suite, and roll Easter eggs with his wife and kids at the White House’s South Lawn.
He has his own video crew following him around for social media postings, such as when he brought out his new receivers and blockers to San Diego in March.
The more Russ, the better – so long as he plays real good quarterback and wins more games than he loses for the Broncos.
“I’ve played against him a couple times. We never won, even the year we (the Eagles) won the Super Bowl (in 2017) and we played them Sunday night —they beat us,’’ said Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby. “But just to see how hard he works. He’s the same every day. He comes in here, has his football pants on, walking around. He’s ready to work. He’s ready to work.”
Oh, yes, one more thing. While everyone else is in shorts, Wilson practices during the offseason with his game pants on. A message from the leader that practice is serious business.
Wilson played 10 seasons in Seattle, averaging 11 wins through his first nine. He suffered a fractured finger that required in-season surgery last season and though the Seahawks were in the tank by the time he returned, he finished with 9 touchdown passes against just 1 pick in his final three games, when Seattle combined for 113 points – 37.7 per.
He’s won so many for so many long to know winning takes work. The Russell Wilson Process begins in the locker room, the meeting room, the weight room, the cafeteria, the practice field.
“That level of respect was already there,’’ said Broncos’ returning tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. “He enforces it every day with the bar he sets and the level of expectation he has of us. There was not a process of him having to earn our respect or anything like that. It was already understood, and he comes in and enforces it and re-establishes that every day.”
Another day is OTA Monday. We’ve already seen Wilson plenty. Now it’s time to see him play quarterback against the Denver defense.
PHOTOS | Russell Wilson introduced as new Broncos QB
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