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Center Lloyd Cushenberry III Seems to Have Already Earned the Trust of Russell Wilson & Nathaniel Hackett

Has the center job already been decided?

Denver Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry is a two-year starter, yet it has been suggested he could be pushed out of a job. Options are certainly available on the roster, with veteran Graham Glasgow capable of sliding inside, and both Quinn Meinerz and rookie fifth-rounder Luke Wattenberg having previous collegiate experience snapping the ball.

During his time at LSU, Cushenberry gained respect as a smart and trusted pivot for his then quarterback Joe Burrow. If Cushenberry is going to develop further as a pro, it's perhaps more a case of improving the physical side of his game rather than his already battle-tested football IQ.

Gaining the confidence of his new quarterback Russell Wilson will be essential, but it appears that the center is managing to impress his superstar signal-caller through the twin pillars of hard work and availability.

“’Cush’ came down to California, San Diego with all the receivers and was snapping every day,” Wilson detailed. “The guy has probably snapped 800 snaps maybe more within that little period of time. That built trust. It’s effortless with me and him. I think what’s fundamental about trust is: No. 1, are you putting the work in; No. 2, are you at the right place at the right time? I think No. 3 is will you do whatever it takes to win? You do whatever it takes to win. I think that’s really, really critical.”

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Protecting their star asset is a high priority for Denver heading into training camp, but that's standard practice. Wilson is also ensuring they all get on the same page during the workouts he's organized and hosted — as well as team-organized activities. 

That has helped Wilson's blocking group know exactly what the plan is pre-snap, and it’s had the additional benefit of building trust between all parties involved.

“I think trust, when it comes to playing at the quarterback position and trusting your teammates and vice versa, I think the first thing is that you spend time on your work,” Wilson explained. “These guys, I found trust in them in the first time met them when they came down to San Diego , and how much time we spend together and how much—like I’m drilling them and they’re learning, doing everything, and they wanted more. They wanted more. So that trust was built right there.”

Trust has been a recurring buzzword that Wilson and the new coaching staff have floated ever since GM George Paton pulled the trigger on the Wilson trade back in March. Degrees of difficulty will only rise for Cushenberry and Co. when Wilson does what he does best and goes off-script — so their heads will have to be on a swivel at all times.

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett has gone on record stating his confidence in Cushenberry’s wide-ranging skill set, so perhaps his hold on his coveted starting job is much more secure than some people think, especially when you add in the all-important factor of trust.

“He’s great. He’s a guy that you can do downhill stuff with like they have done in the past—the inside zone—but he can run off the ball? That’s something that you want to take advantage of," Hackett said of Cushenberry. "He can reach his shade, which he has shown consistently up to this point, and I can’t wait to get pads on so we can see even more.”

Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.

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