Broncos linebacker Shane Ray’s multiple wrist surgeries last year provided a starting opportunity for Shaquil Barrett. Ray’s upcoming operation — his fourth in 10 months — has created a similar opportunity for rookie fifth overall pick Bradley Chubb.
Ray was shut down last week and will miss minicamp, which runs Tuesday-Thursday and wraps up the Broncos’ offseason program. In his place, Chubb has been working with the starters.
“I know Shane is going to do whatever it takes to get back as fast as he can and when he gets back, we’re going to definitely need him,” Chubb said Monday during a volunteer event for Broncos rookies at the Food Bank of the Rockies. “If that causes me to have to step up and step into a certain role, I’ll be prepared.”
During the first three weeks of organized team activities, Chubb’s role was as a second-team player behind Ray and then a part of the pass-rushing group as a defensive end. If Ray isn’t ready for the Sept. 9 opener against Seattle, Chubb would be thrust into an every-down role.
Working with the starters has helped speed up Chubb’s learning.
“The game is so much faster by being with the vets,” Chubb said. “You need to have a sense of urgency. When I take reps with the (starters), it helps me out learning a little bit better. There is no, ‘Hey, what do I have to do on this play?’ because those guys expect me to know it.”
Chubb was a defensive end at North Carolina State playing in a 4-3 alignment but said the transition to becoming a 3-4 linebacker has been “smooth.”
“I have great guys helping me out — Shaq (Barrett), Shane and Von (Miller),” Chubb said. “Those guys are encouraging me and letting me know the things to do in the playbook and the different things that they’ve learned over their careers. I’m excited to be a part of a good group.”
Chubb also received instruction from former Broncos pass rusher DeMarcus Ware during OTAs.
“He helped me out a lot, just doing different pass-rush moves with him,” Chubb said. “He was telling me things he did to have success for so long in his career.”
Chubb said Ware told him to reach out if he wants to talk pass rushing.
“I’m going to be sending him videos of me pass rushing and letting him know I’m trying to do what he taught me and (asking him), ‘What do you see here? What can I do better?’” Chubb said. “Using him as a resource is going to be helpful for me.”
Between now and the start of training camp in late July, Chubb’s goal is to continuing to gain comfort with the playbook.
“In the NFL, they expect you to learn the scheme and be dominant,” he said. “You need to know the outcome for all different types of (pre-snap) situations. In college, I felt like everything was pretty set and we didn’t have to know that much. It was difficult at first, but I feel I’ve come a long way with it.”