ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — First-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy is a man of few words and even fewer miscues. After dropping a pair of passes in his NFL debut, the normally sure-handed receiver from Alabama tweeted, “Failure is growth.”
Jeudy, the 15th overall selection in the NFL draft, took his eyes off the ball and turned upfield, dropping a wide-open pass on third down that squelched Denver’s opening second-half drive against Tennessee on Monday night.
An even costlier drop came on first down in Titans territory in the fourth quarter with the Broncos running their four-minute offense while clinging to a 14-13 lead.
If he makes the play, Denver has a chance to salt away the victory or at the very least kick a field goal. Instead, Denver punted and Tennessee went down and won it on a field goal with 17 seconds left.
“I felt like I failed my team on those two plays,” Jeudy said Wednesday. “Me learning from that, just going out here and practicing and really focus on catching the ball and focus on the little details of catching the ball is really going to help me.
“Those two drops will probably help me on not dropping passes for the whole season.”
The Broncos are sticking by their usually sticky-fingered rookie.
“That’s not Jerry Jeudy,” quarterback Drew Lock said when addressing the pair of dropped throws.
“Jerry has good hands,” coach Vic Fangio agreed.
When asked what he’ll remember most about his professional debut, one in which he caught four passes for 56 yards, Jeudy said, “the two drops.”
What Lock doesn’t want is for Jeudy to harp on it any more than he already has. Lock, for one, won't keep bringing it up.
“He apologized. He was upset and hurt. It’s like missing layups in basketball. You miss a couple and it’s not going to happen again,” Lock said. “You don’t go address a guy about missing layups. It’s not a thing you do and that’s not a thing that we will overly address with Jerry."
Jeudy said it wasn’t a case of the butterflies.
“It just seemed worse because it was my first game,” he said. “Those two dropped passes made it seem like I was nervous. That wasn’t the case. I was just not concentrating on the ball, trying to make a play after the catch.
“Other than those two drops, I had a good day,” Jeudy added. “I was getting open, getting separation.”
Jeudy wasn’t alone in his sputtering start in the pros after a stellar college career.
The only rookie receiver to score in Week 1 was Jacksonville’s Laviska Shenault, who had three catches for 37 yards.
The 42nd overall pick, Shenault was one of 13 wide receivers selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
Henry Ruggs III, the only pass catcher taken ahead of Jeudy, at No. 12, had five receptions for 55 yards in his Raiders debut.
The other first-rounders all had rather pedestrian debuts, too.
—CeeDee Lamb (17th, Cowboys) had five grabs for 59 yards.
—Jalen Raegor (21st, Eagles) had one catch for 55 yards.
—Justin Jefferson (22nd, Vikings) had two receptions for 26 yards.
—Brandon Aiyuk (25th, 49ers), missed San Francisco’s opener (hamstring).
The rookie receivers seemed to pay the price for the league’s lack of a regular offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic that forced teams to do work remotely and scuttled the preseason.
Their timing with quarterbacks just wasn’t what it could have been in a normal year.
In addition to Jeudy’s pair of drops in Denver, Lock overthrew a veteran tight end and a veteran receiver for sure touchdowns in a two-point loss to Tennessee with top target Courtland Sutton sidelined with a shoulder injury.
“You can use the convenient excuse that the timing (was affected by) the offseason, no preseason games,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “Those are plays that we expect those guys to make."
Notes: Sutton returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, and rookie WR K.J. Hamler (hamstring) was a full participant. Sitting out were: ILB Mark Barron (hamstring), RB Phillip Lindsay (turf toe) and CB A.J. Bouye, whom the Broncos placed on IR Wednesday along with ILB Von Miller (ankle).
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