BRONCOS

Lloyd Cushenberry, Russell Wilson ‘on the same page’ already

Jun 1, 2022, 7:53 AM | Updated: 7:53 am
Lloyd Cushenberry III...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Now in his third NFL season, Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III finds himself in an enviable position: snapping to one of the league’s best quarterbacks, in an evolving, new offensive system that is likely to take advantage of the athleticism that he famously flashed as one of the captains of LSU’s 2019 national championship team.

The target of Cushenberry’s snaps then was now-Cincinnati Bengal Joe Burrow, the nation’s best collegiate quarterback before being picked first overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Cushenberry, drafted by the Broncos 82 picks later, now snaps to Russell Wilson, the longtime Seahawks quarterback that intends to finish his playing career in Denver en route to a potential enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The two are off to a flying start already, thanks to Wilson’s desire to get his career with the Broncos going almost immediately after the news of the offseason’s biggest trade shook up the entire league.

“So far, Russell and I have been on the same page with cadences and under-center snaps,” Cushenberry said at the Broncos’ Dove Valley headquarters on Tuesday. “It was good that he invited me out to go to his house in San Diego a few months ago just to get those snaps early. Coming into OTAs, it was a smooth transition.”

Cushenberry immediately claimed the starting center job in 2020 and has started every game since. He’s led the Broncos in offensive snaps taken over the last two seasons, and his approach to the game has been lauded by new head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Cushenberry explained how the center position demands more than just physical skill. “Every night, [I’m using] flashcards and studying and being on point. A lot of people expect the center to know everything. You have to be smart. You don’t get a pat on the back for being smart as a center — you’re supposed to do that,” he said. “That’s what I try to do every night. I get home, and the first thing I do is watch the film, study a little bit, and take a little time off. Before I go to sleep, same thing. It’s an every-night process.”

“Process” has been something of a catch-phrase for the Broncos since Hackett and Wilson came to town, and the work on construction of an offense that melds what Wilson does best with what Hackett’s had success with in Green Bay seems to be bearing fruit — at least with Cushenberry. “In my opinion, I think I fit in any scheme. It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said, before praising the new regime’s plan. “I’m liking this one so far. The past few years didn’t really work out for us, but hopefully, this year is the turnaround. I’m loving the system that we have now.”

Last year’s promising third-round selection, Wisconsin-Whitewater offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz, had once been earmarked as a possible competitor for Cushenberry’s job, but that notion appears to have pushed to aside, and while it’s still possible that Graham Glasgow might compete for the center spot if Meinerz looks ready to claim the right-guard spot opposite native son Dalton Risner, Cushenberry sees Glasgow as more of a mentor than a potential usurper. “He knows a little about a lot. He knows everything. You ask him any questions, and he knows about it. Dalton and Graham are up there with me.”

Ask Cushenberry, though, and training-camp competitions appear to rightly be down on his list of priorities. He knows that he has an audience of one — Wilson — and he’s intent on making sure that the two of them are ready to hit the ground running. “It’s everything; communicating and making sure I’m seeing what he’s seeing as much as I can,” he explained. “I’m not going to see the secondary and pressures and everything, but for the most part, inside the box, we need to be seeing the same things and be on the same page.”

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Shawn Drotar (@sdrotar) is the on-air host of “Sandy & Shawn;” weeknights from 9 PM-midnight on 104.3 The Fan, as well as the host of “The Fan’s Nuggets Postgame” and “The Fan’s Avalanche Postgame,” both starting immediately after each game’s final horn.
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