ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Among the facts unearthed from three weeks of training camp is how differently Phillip Lindsay, Bradley Chubb and Courtland Sutton fit into the Broncos' fabric.
They are no longer kids trying to make good. They are no longer carrying helmets. And they are definitely no longer biting their tongues. A summer later, everything is different. Lindsay, Chubb and Sutton have emerged as leaders along with Von Miller and Emmanuel Sanders. This trio didn't give itself a nickname or act entitled. These three, in fact, are akin to the college recruiting class that turns a program around. It started with rolled-up sleeves and finished with helium-inflated stats. The three talked exclusively with Denver7 about their amplified leadership roles entering this season.
"I feel the first thing you have to do as a rookie is gain the respect of the veterans. I feel like with that class, with the way we played, we started edging toward getting that respect," Chubb said. "And when you have that respect factor, it allows you to have more of a voice. When you have a voice, it can help everybody grow and grow, and if one guy sees something and another doesn't, then that guy can speak up. Nobody is scared to do that now."
Players gravitate toward Chubb, who is outgoing, but accountable. He has earned coach Vic Fangio's praise for his attention to detail. As for Lindsay, what's not to like? He wears his passion for his state, his team, his city on his sleeve. Others feed off his energy, which falls somewhere between a Red Bull and three lattes.
"You get older and a year under you, so you know what it takes now, a little bit. We are not saying we are vets," Lindsay explained. "It is always good to have Von and Emmanuel there, because they have been through everything from the Super Bowl to the ups and downs. It's always good when we can get in there and help them out. That’s what it's about, getting everyone on the same page. If all the younger guys can help each other, it makes it a lot smoother when the season gets hard. It's about one thing: we are out here to win. Why else would I be here? I love football. But I don't play the game to get my butt whooped. I play to win."
Sutton resides in a different space, sharing a position group with Sanders. Sanders is a dominant personality, who is needed for the Broncos to rebound. Sutton is more vocal — that's part of why he and Sanders clashed and then made up several days ago — but recognizes there's no substitute for embracing the grind.
"We kind of say a few more things and some guys actually hear us out. It’s not even so much going in and being like, ‘Hey this is what we need to do.’ It’s more like, ‘Hey, this is kind of what we see, we kind of think that this is the way that we should kind of go.’ And also just lead by example and showing up and going to work every day. That speaks louder than any words you can say," Sutton said after practice. "If you go to work consistently every day and you put days on top of days on top of days, then guys are like, ‘Alright, this guy goes to work every day, we know what we’re going to get from him every day, he’s consistent.'"
For the Broncos to avoid their third-straight losing season since the drought of 1963-72, they need Lindsay, Chubb and Sutton to excel. The trio could combine for 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 15 sacks. But their biggest impact? That could come off the field.
"I am not in the NFL to make money; I am in the NFL because I want to win," Lindsay said. "I have been in this state my whole life. There’s a history of winning here in the Denver organization and I want to continue to bring that here. The fans deserve it. The players deserve it and now we have to go out there and do it."