Denver Broncos safety PJ Locke is a Texas boy following his dream to make it in the NFL. At still only 25 years old, he has already been cut by both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Broncos during his quest to hold down a pro job.
There is no doubt that Locke has been schooled the hard way, especially after taking his licks on Denver’s practice squad. However, perseverance is now paying off for him and he has begun to really impress his experienced teammates like fellow Texas native Courtland Sutton.
Responding to the challenges of defending the Broncos’ No. 1 wide receiver has given Locke a chance to really catch the eye during recent OTAs. Splashy plays, like Sutton detailed earlier his week, are also proving that Locke can indeed mix it at the elite level.
“I love watching PJ’s game and I love watching what he brings to the table,” Sutton said last week. “Him making that play—we were joking about how I looked at the quarterback and I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m wide open,’ and then all of a sudden, I see a flash of white come across my eyes and it’s PJ making a play.”
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With fellow safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson already forming one of the best duos in the league, it’s up to Locke to prove that he can push the heir apparent Caden Sterns for additional playing time.
It’s exciting to hear just how enthusiastic Sutton is about Locke’s future potential as the safety continues to make major strides forward. Furthermore, by going toe-to-toe in practice, Sutton believes its helping to improve both the offensive and defensive units.
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“You love to see those things because, like I said, we’re getting better and they’re getting us better at the end of the day,” Sutton said. “That’s something that we went back and looked at the film and said, ‘Okay, we can do this better,’ or whatever it may be. You love to be able to see guys like PJ going out there and being able to make plays and making a name for himself— continuing to make a name for himself. You just love to see it.”
Simmons has also been watching Locke do his thing on the practice field. Locke received a timely boost to his confidence when his team captain raved about how much depth he brings to the position, but without performance levels dropping off.
“PJ is great,” #31 proclaimed. “We always preach about ‘next man up.’ One of the guys goes down, you always want to have the guy behind him to plug in and it feels like you’re not losing a step. PJ is the epitome of that comment.
When you consider Jackson’s often kamikaze approach to playing the game, having some ready-made replacements comes in handy. If Locke is making his experienced teammates take notice, it’s a sure bet that the new coaching staff will also be paying close attention.
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