Deep in the core DNA of an interior offensive lineman can be found the burning desire for intense physical combat. Not since 2019 has the Denver Broncos' rookie blocker Quinn Meinrez appeared in any game action, and while the team's Offseason Training Program served to whet his appetite, he's looking forward to training camp when he will finally get the opportunity to butt heads for real.
“That’s definitely when the real things will start to show and we can be a little more physical and really work the technique that we’re learning in our individual drills,” Meinerz told Aric DiLalla of the team site. “I’m definitely really excited to put the pads on, because the only time I’ve had to put on the pads on this year was at the Senior Bowl for a couple of days. That was almost a tease at that point.”
Meinerz impressed the Broncos' front office enough during his brief stint in pads at the Senior Bowl this past January; so much so that the team used a valuable third-round draft pick to select him. Coming from a school background at Wisconsin-Whitewater, he is well aware of the inherent value of the reps and expert coaching he received during OTAs, and he is thankful for fewer pandemic-related disruptions to football.
“It was a huge learning experience, definitely,” Meinerz said. “Learning how to practice as a pro and coming from a small school, learning a new playbook. A whole bunch of new things are happening and it kind of moved really quickly, but to have the veterans come back and to have most of our team there was awesome. It was super valuable. I cannot imagine being a rookie and not having OTAs like last year.”
Indeed, when it comes to the wealth of reps and the knowledge gleaned therefrom that all NFL teams had to forgo last year as a result of the pandemic, many fans overlook or dismiss it out of hand due to the likes of Justin Herbert putting up record passing numbers in L.A. But Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur indirectly cast the issue into stark relief when he said two weeks ago that the offense had been able to get a "half season's reps" under its belt over the duration of the Offseason Training Program.
Young Broncos suffered dramatically last year for the lack of offseason reps which is why the offense didn't even start showing signs of life until well after the midseason point. Turns out, they needed the reps and only the live-bullet variety were on offer in 2020.
Meinerz has settled in quickly with the Broncos it would seem and he has already become somewhat of a cult hero with his belly-out look which has provided good photo-ops for photographers attending practice.
Pitching straight into a positional battle at center with second-year man Lloyd Cushenberry III will be a tough assignment for the 22-year-old, but if Meinerz goes on to win out, it would prove that having enough time to hone the skill-set on the practice field is indeed worth its weight in gold. Especially considering the alternative, which affected all NFL rookies last year in a big way, including Cushenberry.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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