Broncos WR Josh Reynolds calls himself an “old-school football player” with fondness for doing the dirty work

Broncos WR Josh Reynolds calls himself an “old-school football player” with fondness for doing the dirty work

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A lot of wide receivers know what to say when they get asked about the dirty work that is usually an afterthought for a glamor position.

Of course, blocking is important. Yeah, we take pride in it. A big block can be as consequential as catching a touchdown.

Josh Reynolds? The glint in his eye when the subject comes up during organized team activities gives away two things simultaneously: First, this isn’t just lip service. More pertinently, this is a key reason why the Broncos targeted him earlier this spring when he was still available a couple of weeks into free agency.

“I’m an old-school football player, man,” Reynolds told The Denver Post after Denver wrapped up its first three OTA practices. “I’m kind of in that threshold between old-school and new-school football now. That’s part of football. I know I’m going to have to go in there and dig some safeties out and, honestly, that’s one of my favorite parts. In high school I played safety, so I like to hit a little bit.”

Reynolds can catch, too, make no mistake about it. He had perhaps his finest season as a pro last year in Detroit, catching 40 passes for 608 yards and tying a career-best with five touchdowns.

“He’s long. He has strong hands. Another veteran receiver,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said Thursday. “I like that group, and if you study it closely, it’s big across the board and it has speed. So there’s going to be heavy competition there.”

Reynolds signed a two-year, $9 million deal with Denver sensing an opportunity.

“It’s a business, but you know, I think I’m at where I’m supposed to be at, and I’m excited,” he said of leaving Detroit after playing more than 70% of the Lions’ offensive snaps, second-most among the team’s receivers behind only star Amon-Ra St. Brown.

A fourth-round pick in 2017, Reynolds also has seen the work Payton did first in New Orleans and last year with the Broncos as he’s progressed in his career from the Los Angeles Rams to Tennessee and then Detroit.

“I think the main decision was that I’ve always admired Sean Payton from afar,” Reynolds said. “I was excited to see what that offense looked like.”

A year ago, Payton and the Broncos front office prioritized retooling the offensive line in an effort to jump-start the running game. This year, they drafted Audric Estime in the fifth round and added Reynolds, who should help in the passing game and also on the ground.

“If I find somebody and can get my hands on somebody, that kind of sets the tone for me as well,” he said.

Reynolds brings a tenacity in run-blocking that Denver’s missed the past two years, especially with Tim Patrick missing consecutive seasons due to a torn ACL (2022) and then a torn Achilles (2023). The potential of deploying both this fall puts the Broncos in a much better position to help spring big runs on the perimeter.

And it also gives Denver a pair of tough-minded veterans to help mold young players like second-year man Marivn Mims Jr. and the rookie duo of Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele.

In Reynolds’ wide receiver room, you’re going to block.

“Oh 100%,” he said. “It was the same thing with the Lions. You see guys going in there and going in there and going in there. We’re not taking on hits now. We’re going to deliver them (things). We’re going to make sure that the team that’s watching film for the next week is like, ‘OK, we’re either going to have to bring it’ or ‘We don’t want that.’

“It’s very contagious.”

Reynolds, then, isn’t a one-for-one replacement for Jerry Jeudy, who was traded to Cleveland before the draft and subsequently signed a three-year extension worth $19 million per year. He is, however, part of a reconfigured group that could include several fresh faces and provide new competition for the returning group.

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