At this time four years ago the Denver Broncos had an extremely talented pass rusher set to start his second season in the NFL, Von Miller. After a very good rookie season where he showed plenty of flash (11.5 sacks) Miller had the best regular season of his career during his second season, racking up 18.5 sacks and finishing second for Defensive Player of the Year.

However, going into Miller’s second season, he was overshadowed by a future Hall of Famer set to make his Broncos debut, quarterback Peyton Manning.

Fast-forward four years to the present and there may be a similar situation happening in Denver. While the Broncos offseason has been chock-full of storylines, the two dominant headlines have been about the quarterback position and Miller’s contract.

What may be flying under the radar this time around is another first-round pass rusher set to make his second year impact, Shane Ray. Valued by many as a top-10 talent in the 2015 draft, Ray had limited playing opportunity in 2015 thanks to a future Hall of Famer (DeMarcus Ware) and another player on his way (Miller) in front of him, but still showed flashes of greatness.

After spending the offseason in Florida focusing on getting “bigger, faster and stronger,” Ray has the lowest body fat percentage he’s ever had, along with adding an additional eight pounds of muscle. He says he’s already noticed this extra work translate on the field, but he still has areas for improvement.

“For me I’m just trying to polish my technique. I’m just trying to get my technique better everyday,” said Ray after training camp practice, “use my abilities to my advantage, and that’s going to take work, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

Miller, a guy that knows a thing or two about getting after the quarterback, said there is no doubt Ray’s hard work in the offseason has paid off.

“I mean just look at him. He’s definitely been working this offseason, I can tell you that. He’s a whole lot stronger mentally on the football field [too],” said Miller on Monday.

With Miller’s absence this entire offseason up until training camp and DeMarcus Ware dealing with a back injury, Ray has been able to get a lot more reps with the first team. However, he says the number of reps he gets doesn’t make a difference in his progression because he’s always focused mentally.

“For me, whether I’m taking a mental or a physical rep, I’m getting better. So I don’t think it really makes a difference [whether I’m getting first-team reps],” said Ray. “I’m still getting the same amount of experience, if not a little more, than I was getting. So I’m just taking it everyday.”

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips praised Ray for this improvement to the mental side of his game.

“[Ray] came back with a tremendous attitude. He’s worked hard at it. He’s got ability, he’s got to keep working,” said Phillips. “He’s getting a lot of reps…so he’s gotten the opportunity.”

Even with two Hall of Fame-caliber players ahead of him on the depth chart, Ray doesn’t settle for anything but perfection.

“I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself. I come out here everyday trying to perfect my craft, I’m not going to be smiling everyday if I don’t think it’s going the way it should be going for me,” said Ray. “I’m just trying to get better and be the best me I can be.”

A common sentiment from rookies about the transition from college to the NFL is the game is too fast and they have to think too much during their first season. Ray says that now he is past his rookie season, the game is coming to him much more naturally.

“More relaxed, more comfortable in the defense. Things are a little smoother,” Ray said.

While there is little chance that Ray will get the playing time that Miller got during his sophomore season — 89% of the defensive snaps — he should see an increase from his 31% from last season, especially with his improvements.

“It’s the leap you want to see out of second year players. You want to see that huge leap and Shane has been that. He’s been above and beyond what he’s supposed to do,” Miller said.

It isn’t fair to expect a similar statistical sophomore season as Miller. However, even if his stat sheet isn’t off the charts, Ray could have a major impact on this Broncos defense, especially if Ware’s health remains in question.