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You thought we 'Forgot About Dre'? Broncos' Dre'Mont Jones opens eyes

The law firm of Jones & Jones upfront should improve Broncos defense
Broncos Football
Posted at 10:05 AM, Aug 25, 2022

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There are certain things to expect daily from Broncos practice: Coach Nathaniel Hackett's energy, hip-hop music blaring through the speakers, Russell Wilson encouraging teammates and Dre'Mont Jones turning the backfield into his summer Airbnb.

It has been impossible not to notice the former Ohio State standout. He has given the Broncos' offensive line fits with his strength and stunts. Entering his fourth season, Jones appears ready to burst. He has flirted with stardom — posting 15.5 sacks, including 6.5 in 2020, and 28 quarterback hits — but fell short due to injuries or inconsistency.

So you thought we "Forgot About Dre"? I wouldn't. Not this season.

Watching the 25 year-old, the pieces are aligning for a career year. He is more comfortable and the law firm of Jones & Jones — that would be D.J. and Dre — is poised to dispense justice upfront.

"Everything feels different to me. From us being more in tune with the defense and knowing what’s going on and my alignments," Jones told Denver7 after Wednesday's padded practice. "I feel like I am lining up in different areas instead of just being one dimensional. Kind of how it was last year when I was a three [technique]… I feel like I can go on both sides of a three technique and play some wide five [at end], and I like it."

The fit has brought out the best of Jones in workouts. He is producing a strong inside rush and showing strength in the run game, which was on full display in the joint practice against the Cowboys that featured Jones making plays and talking trash.

Yes, it is practice. No one has earned a Pro Bowl berth from summer 11-on-11 drills, but there are some encouraging signs to glean. Jones, who will be a free agent at season's end, is more forceful than in the past, his personality more prevalent, perhaps filling some of the vacuum created by the trade of Shelby Harris to Seattle.

"I can take a lot from [the practices]. The repetition, showing my ability to myself that I can win out here," Jones said. "I am going onto the field and doing the things I need to do. I feel like if you don’t win on the field at practice then you are not going to win on the field in the game more times than not."

Former Pro Bowl outside linebacker Bradley Chubb believes the defensive line and edge rushers are creating a "brotherhood." That bond is critical for this team to end its six-year playoff absence.

"You see guys out there playing for each other," he said.

What has been easy to witness is Jones' work. With D.J. Jones providing a handful at the point of attack, it has freed Dre'Mont to move around and win regularly.

"I know that everyone has been talking about Dre’Mont. He is going to have a big year," said Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry. "His speed, his power — he has the total package."

Part of the the problem is that it has not been on full display in a stadium. Coach Nathaniel Hackett has chosen not to play most of his starters in the preseason, prioritizing health and fresh bodies and minds over a few series in games that don't count. It has created some hand-wringing in Broncos Country, especially after the Bills boat raced Denver last Saturday. Dre'Mont Jones understands the concern, but provided perspective.

"We are going to be just fine. We know how to play football still. There’s a lot of football left — 17 [regular season] games. Don’t expect us to come out perfect in Week 1. That's the goal obviously, but if we are not perfect, don’t be discouraged," Jones said. "We have a long season ahead ... and we’ve got Russ."