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Surtain rides the rookie bus, heading for promising future

Broncos' first-round cornerback may be heir apparent to Von Miller as best player on Denver D.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Pat Surtain II was seated in his interview chair, waiting on 9NEWS to finish setting up when a familiar player came over to joke around.

Von Miller loves to joke around.

It occurred to the 9NEWS reporter. These two players, Surtain and Miller, represent The Transition.

“This is the MVP right here,’’ Surtain said respectfully of Miller.

Miller was the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2011, No. 2 overall. A pass rusher, Miller was Denver’s best defensive player the past 10 seasons.

Surtain was the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2021, No. 9 overall. A cornerback, Surtain could well become Denver’s best defensive player of the next 10 seasons.

“He’s the real deal,’’ Miller said of Surtain. “I wouldn’t mind betting on this guy. He’s going to get your return back. He’ll give you more than you get on crypto.’’

Right there, in front of the 9NEWS cameras, The Transition of the Denver D.

But first, Surtain is treated like every other rookie. He may have received a $12.605 million signing bonus, but you won’t see a shiny new car of his in the players’ parking lot.

“I go ride the bus,’’ Surtain said. “Rookies aren’t allowed to drive to training camp.”

Also like all the other rookies, Surtain is a backup. Plays with the No. 2 base defense. He might mix in as the No. 1 nickel ahead of Bryce Callahan later in the training camp practice. But well-paid veterans Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller are the two starting corners.

“It’s experience for me,’’ Surtain said. “Just learn and watch the vets to pick up on things they do. Meet with them after each practice to learn what they do. It’s an experience for me and I’m just waiting my turn.”

He did get his first camp interception Monday, sliding in underneath a crossing route to pick off a Drew Lock pass during a 7 on 7 period.

“It was a nickel package, I was at nickel,’’ Surtain said. “I was reading a route, picked up the QB’s eyes, and just made a play.”

A few nights ago, Surtain led off the Broncos’ nightly rookie show by signing “Can We Talk,” by Tevin Campbell.

“I had the set the tone the right way,’’ Surtain said.

You mean besides all his wondrous football talents, Surtain can also sing?

“A little bit,’’ he said. “I mean, I’m not saying I’m the best singer, but if I had to.”

For now, Surtain’s work day starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends about 8:30 p.m. Hotel to Broncos headquarters; headquarters to hotel; bus ride to bus stop. He said he hasn’t spent any of his signing bonus money, yet, but when would he find the time? So it goes in training camp. Eventually, Surtain will get some free time.

 “I’m an outgoing guy,’’ he said. “I like to travel. Spend time with family, friends. I just like to enjoy myself at the end of the day. Because when I’m off from football I try to shift my mind into different things I want to do.”

Football, though, is what he mostly does – and will do for a long time. Von Miller isn’t the only one betting on that.

The future is Surtain’s but he’s humble enough to understand his present is as a rookie.

“First off, I just want to play my role,’’ he said. “Whatever the team needs me to do I’m going to do. And then when I get out there, I want to make plays and help the team win. So this year is all about building team camaraderie, just working toward team goals.”

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