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Best defense in the NFL has a job opening. And Shane Ray’s name is top of the stack

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  • Best defense in the NFL has a job opening. And Shane Ray’s name is top of the stack

    http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/01...ing-shane-ray/

    Shane Ray loomed over the right side of Denver’s defense Monday in full 3-D. He is pumped up, in a Hans and Franz sense. And when Demaryius Thomas, one of the biggest and bulkiest receivers in the NFL, took a dinky dump-off pass, Ray made him look like a cardboard cut-out.

    With one hand, Ray grabbed Thomas by the shoulder and ripped him down to the grass. The second-year linebacker kept his dreadlocks this season, but he shed the hesitation.

    “For me, to open my toolbox, I needed to get bigger with more strength, so I can get physical with guys on contact,” Ray said.

    The best defense in the NFL has a job opening. While the Broncos fuss around finding their heir apparent to Peyton Manning at quarterback, a much more quiet search is unfolding at weakside linebacker. Veteran DeMarcus Ware is withering under a recurring back injury. He missed five games last season, then skipped all offseason training activities to recover. He still hasn’t put on pads in the preseason.

    The Broncos foresaw all of this when they drafted Ray in the first round a year ago. He is their future. And the bridge to then is now.

    I’ve jumped over that curve, and now I can be a consistent playmaker,” Ray said. “That’s why I was drafted. That’s what I’m capable of doing. I don’t think there will be any drop-off between Von (Miller)’s and DeMarcus’ production when I’m in. That’s how I have to carry myself.”

    Ware said he wants to return before the Broncos open their season Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers. If he does, it probably will be as a third-down pass-rush specialist. The bulk of the work will fall to Ray or third-year former practice squad linebacker Shaquil Barrett from Colorado State.

    But Ray’s pedigree gives him an edge. He was the SEC defensive player of the year and an All-American at Missouri before the Broncos used the 23rd pick to select him. Now past his rookie year, and with a clear opening in the starting lineup, Ray is playing with the first-team defense and acting like he belongs.

    “When you have a rookie that comes in, a first-round draft pick, they get a rude awakening with the experience and guys that are mature and have done it for a long time,” Ware said of Ray. “Expectations are there. When you take those expectations off, not saying that you’re a rookie anymore and taking that title off, you can see how much he’s matured.”

    I’ve jumped over that curve, and now I can be a consistent playmaker,” Ray said. “That’s why I was drafted. That’s what I’m capable of doing. I don’t think there will be any drop-off between Von (Miller)’s and DeMarcus’ production when I’m in. That’s how I have to carry myself.”

    Ware said he wants to return before the Broncos open their season Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers. If he does, it probably will be as a third-down pass-rush specialist. The bulk of the work will fall to Ray or third-year former practice squad linebacker Shaquil Barrett from Colorado State.

    The Denver defense is set up to allow Miller to freelance around the strong side in pass coverage and edge rushes. But the Super Bowl MVP is a marked man, one of the most obvious scouting targets in the NFL. The weak side, then, will get tested.

    Ware last season started just 10 games, but his 7½ sacks trailed only Miller’s 11 for the team lead. The Broncos used him sparingly down the stretch, holding him back to allow his back to heal. They unleashed him in the playoffs, and he sacked Cam Newton twice in the Super Bowl.

    The Broncos can’t live without Ware — after Manning retired, Ware is their veteran leader, and his voice grabs the most attention in the locker room. He just might not play the most downs.

    Barrett was a better backup last season. He got to the quarterback 22 times for knockdowns and hurries, 4½ more than Ray. And Ray, who missed two games with a knee injury, has not yet started a game in the NFL.

    But Ray added 11 pounds of muscle in the offseason and an attitude to match. His time is now. Coach Gary Kubiak called Ray a “gut player,” part of a group of talented young players ready to rise.

    “I want to be complete,” Ray said. “I’m ready. I think they know that. I love DeMarcus, and he’s a great coach to all of us, a great mentor. I’m still asking him every day how I can get better as a player. I’m looking forward to the season and my role expanding — and just taking it and running with it.”
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  • #2
    I remember early in the 2015 season kubes talking about an important 3rd down with both Von and Ware in pads next to Kubes while the Denver defense made a key 3rd down stop.

    We are blessed to have 2 OLBs who would be starting for a lot of other teams helping us keep two elite players fresh for the playoffs. Other teams need to ride their elite players to the ground to make the playoffs.

    Shaq and Shane will get even more opportunities this year imo.
    Time to build on the win and grow the team from some solid play higher level of play

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    • #3
      I think shane is gonna show why Elway picked him
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      • #4
        Well if I know Demarcus Ware, hes mentoring Shane Ray all day long even if it poses a threat to his own job! Ware is just that type of good guy, I certainly hope hes givin all the time he needs to recover and see don't see him ending up up on the bubble!

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        • #5
          I don't think theres anything that could land ware on the bubble...much too valuable this year...I think the job is rays...but he would get it until ware is gone after this season...untill then wares value is on and off the field teaching ray
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          when do native Americans become human and not mascots

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          • #6
            I have high expectations for Shane Ray. He sort of got to "get his feet" wet sitting behind both Miller and Ware. With it looking more likely that Ware will take even fewer snaps this season, Ray should be the guy to step in and hopefully continue to bring the heat.

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