ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There remains an everyman quality to Case Keenum.
He grew up undersized in Texas, winning a state championship. He set records at the University of Houston, then went undrafted. Multiple NFL teams, coaches and scouts told him he wouldn't play in the NFL. He refused to take the hint.
Now he sits in the cockpit of the Broncos offense, armed with a $25 million contract. Beyond his 13 wins last season, the Broncos pursued Keenum because of his work ethic. Keenum, on most days, arrives at UCHealth Center before the 5:45 a.m. bus from the nearby team hotel.
"It's much more than just what we do in between the white lines," Keenum said. "It is a 24-hours, 7-days-a-week deal."
Keenum reached starting status by evolving, learning, improving. He is not the same player who was shoved onto Houston's Texas squad. The Broncos believe he can be even better than the player who led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game last season. Keenum gets being a quarterback. As a Texas kid, there's a little "Friday Night Lights" clear eyes, full hearts can't lose to his preparation.
In his scant spare minutes, Keenum, now an accomplished author, forgets the football field as his office and turns "The Office" into his field of view.
"I’m a big Michael Scott fan. I enjoy putting on 'The Office' at night," Keenum said. "I think I’m on my fourth time through the series.”
Keenum possesses a dry sense of humor. He has provided nicknames to multiple teammates, and has delivered a few zingers in his press conferences. Everyone needs an escape. As he learned in the five months since signing, being the quarterback of the Broncos is kind of a big deal.
He has embraced the responsibility, revealing leadership and talent as the Broncos attempt to awake from an offensive hibernation.
It starts at the start. After a pair of numbing drives against Minnesota, Keenum looks to open the throttle on Saturday.
"It's jumping right into the mental focus and intensity that you want the entire game and practice. It's being prepared the minute you step onto the field," said Keenum, who looked sharp against the Bears in completions to Demaryius Thomas, Isaiah McKenzie and De'Angelo Henderson. "It's not about just showing up and going. It's very, very important to start fast."
The Broncos are not expected to go full pads in Thursday's final workout against the Bears. Keenum still sees the practice as another opportunity for improvement.
"The best part of adversity," Keenum said, "is bouncing back."