DeMarcus Ware‘s retirement hurts the Denver Broncos‘ leadership and pass-rushing depth, but Vance Joseph has a young player ready to step right into a full-time starting role and make plays in Shane Ray.
“And Shane’s been ready,” Miller said, via ESPN. “He’s been ready for a long time.”
Ray started eight games last season when Ware sat out with injury troubles. The 2015 first-round pick compiled eight sacks in limited duty. He played just 624 of the team’s 1,027 defensive snaps, per NextGen Stats, well behind Miller’s 882 plays. Ray’s snap count should skyrocket in 2017.
“Shane being a starter from Day 1 — I think that will definitely help his game,” Miller said. “He’ll have to come out in key situations and be the guy this year.”
Had it not been for a citation for possession of marijuana before the draft, Ray might have been a top-10 pick, instead he fell into John Elway’s lap at No. 23. Ray’s ability to bend the edge, and a motor to pester the quarterback, make him an ideal fit to replace Ware in Denver.
While he might have the future Hall of Famer’s pedigree, Ray has the talent to disrupt the quarterback. With a full slate of snaps, Ray and Miller should be among the top pass-rushing duos in the NFL in 2017.