Englewood, Colorado – When special teams coordinator Dwayne Stokes spoke to the media last month, he made it clear he wouldn’t plead.
He did not want to look for players to serve in his own squad unit; He wanted players who wanted to be involved in this aspect of the game.
It is often a non-captivating role. Special teams are rarely noticed unless there is a game-changing comeback – or a cruel foul. Especially for the players who were almost all newbies at the college level, the task of special teams could be considered daunting.
However, Stukes wants players to enjoy this challenge – and he may have some in the Beginner class this year.
In his post-draft press conference, general manager George Button mentioned cornerback Damary Mattis and Salama Delaryn Turner-Yel as potential contributors, and the two players confirmed their desire to play on special teams this year.
“I’m really comfortable,” Mattis said on Friday of playing on special teams. “I want to come here and show all my abilities in the best possible way and be a great team player. However, I can adapt, [I want to] Come in and help the team win.”
Turner Yell echoed Mattis’ opinion on Saturday.
“Anything to help the team win,” Turner told Yale. “If I play in special teams all year round, I am willing to do it. And if I have to play on the defensive side, I can also do it. Anything that will lead us to success, at the end of the day.”
And of course, wide receiver Montreal Washington was brought in due to his dynamic ability to return, which caught the attention of the Stukes in a breakout match against Florida.
Stukes specifically said of Mathis and Turner-Yell, “When we do these exercises here, we want to see their sport, and what’s important to me also is that the kids can learn in class and then turn that into a field.” “We want to see if they can listen, and see how smart they are. … Watching these kids running, I wouldn’t say they are the next person, but they definitely have talent. They can help us with special teams.”
Denver could use the assist after finishing near the bottom of the league in several stat categories last year. While offense and defense deserve the most attention, the Broncos need to show marked improvement in the third phase of the game to realize their ambitions.
If any of the young players need an example of the value of contributing as a private team, they need to look no further than their coach. After a career at the University of Virginia, Stukes spent four seasons in the NFL, primarily as a player on special teams.
“In those days when I played – I’m not trying to look old, but I’m 45 – we had to play special teams in Virginia,” Stokes said. “Yes, I started in defense, but I wanted to help our team win. We want the best players in the special teams, as well as in attack and defense,” the coach said. So whatever it took to help the University of Virginia win games, I was willing to do it, and I had no problem doing it.
“So yeah, my love for the specials started there, but once I got into the league, I wasn’t a regular anymore. It was amazing. In college, everyone says to you, ‘Oh you’re great at this, you’re great, you’re great!’” Then you get to the NFL and the older vets tell you, ‘You’re not as good as you think, rook.’ You have to win your position. You have to win your place. John Lynch in front of me. I had Dexter Jackson in front of me. I had Jermaine Phillips in front of me. I had a lot of talented safety in front of me. So I was like, ‘I want to make this team.’ I will do whatever it takes to create this team.”
“That’s what I’m trying to instill in these men as well, especially the younger ones. You have to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you, and you have to take advantage of that. If you get a chance to take a job from someone, you have to do it.”
Obviously, the mentality has already resonated with his players.
“I love what the coach brings to his meetings and the intensity,” Washington said. “His mentality, makes me feel excited every time I hear him speak. I won’t lie to you, I’m going through a brick wall for the coach now.”