Dove Valley was popping Tuesday as players reported for team activities for the first time since the end of the 2021 regular season. The vacations were over, and it was officially time to go back to the grind, as players began workouts and conditioning as a team.
This season feels different though, and there is no doubt that the addition of Russell Wilson has everyone reinvigorated. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett is a breath of fresh air as well, with a player-first attitude that is diametrically opposed to the previous old school regime. For as many significant changes that have taken place, the vast majority of returning players seem to have found a newly acquired focus.
The new culture is being established with on-field leaders already urging their teammates forward.
Justin Simmons said as much when asked about his decision to participate in voluntary workouts.
“I just think it’s a new culture, it’s a new staff,” Simmons explained. “And as one of the leaders on this team, I feel like it’s important to show up and be present and start building the camaraderie. Because no matter how many guys are back from last year’s team, it’s just different. It’s new. There’s new relationships to build. And you want to build that rapport now, in person.”
Justin Simmons speaking on his new QB, Russell Wilson: pic.twitter.com/tJfgdCfcxQ
— Mile High Man (@MileHTalk) April 13, 2022
He also spoke glowingly about coach Hackett in their early interactions.
“His energy is almost unmatched. It’s great. It’s contagious.” Simmons continued saying, “It’s fresh. You appreciate it. I know it’s only been technically one day, but just being around him for the past few weeks now, he’s special and he has a great energy about him.”
Of course, that energy is part of the new culture, and it’s important the on-field leaders are also showing up for their teammates in these voluntary workouts. They’re leading by example.
On the offensive side of the ball, Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton echoed the same sentiments as Simmons when he took the podium and immediately addressed the new feeling around the facility.
“You all can feel it,” Sutton said. “We all can feel it. The juice is just different. I wasn’t around when Peyton (Manning) was here but from what I am hearing from everyone that was here when Peyton was here, is that the juice and the energy is pretty similar.”
How are the Broncos currently feeling?
Courtland Sutton says "the juice is just different."
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 12, 2022
Nothing screams excitement like a direct comparison of Russell Wilson to Peyton Manning. Both are legends in their own right, and hopefully, Wilson can see the same success in orange and blue as “The Sheriff” did. The expectations are exceedingly lofty but from all reports it seems like Wilson wouldn’t have it any other way.
The season is still months away and no one knows what the future holds. Franchise-wide culture change requires a massive amount of buy-in from all parties involved and that can be difficult to achieve. However, it is so far, so good at Dove Valley right now and Broncos Country can celebrate that at the very least.