Here’s why Tyrie Cleveland stuck on the Broncos’ roster
Aug 31, 2022, 5:54 PM
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Thirty days passed in August from when wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland suffered a throat injury to when he sat in the Broncos’ locker room, a member of the team’s initial 53-man roster for 2022.
In those 30 days, every other receiver on the roster had a chance to make an impression. Chances to make big plays and seize the spotlight. Cleveland could only watch, rehab and heal.
With every preseason game — and what seemed like every practice — another receiver seemed to grab plenty of passes, and the attention to go with it.
Prior to the injury, Cleveland felt he was having his best training camp in his three years as a pro.
“I felt good. I was playing faster. Everything had slowed down,” he said. ”
In recent weeks, the strong start Cleveland had to training camp faded in the minds of the public. But that wasn’t the case inside UCHealth Training Center.
And at the end of the month, Cleveland still had his roster spot. And on Wednesday, the Broncos cleared him for full practice work. His recovery, initially timetabled at four-to-six weeks, took precisely 30 days.
For those who paid close attention, Cleveland’s place wasn’t a surprise. Every time special-teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes was asked about Cleveland, he was effusive.
“We know what we have in Tyrie,” Stukes said Aug. 25. “He’s athletic, he brings the physicality we’re looking for, and he brings the speed we’re looking for.
“My opinion on him has not changed since Day 1. I’ll say it again: He’s also being evaluated as a receiver. That’s going to play a part in it, but we want him to be a core special-teams player. I’m going to keep saying that as well.”
Of course, it took time for Cleveland to embrace that role.
In his final two seasons at Florida in 2018 and 2019, Cleveland became more involved in special teams. But it was with the Broncos when he began embracing the role of a gunner on punt plays.
“I didn’t like it as much until I got to the league,” Cleveland said. “In the league, as a gunner, you’ve got to be competitive. It’s one-on-one. Who’s going to win? Who’s going to hold ’em up? Who’s going to get down there and make the play?
“It’s very competitive, and I’m a competitive guy — so, I love it.”
He missed that competition throughout August. For a while, swallowing was a problem.
“t was like a big lump,” Cleveland said. “It was hard for me to eat. I had to have soup and drink a lot of smoothies and stuff like that.”
But over the weeks, he recovered. The liquid diet went away. The first thing he wanted afterward?
And all the while, Cleveland did conditioning work and stayed active in meetings. Now, with chicken fingers back on his plate and a key special-teams role on his ledger, he’s ready.
“I’m gonna go, man,” he said. “Just working hard. Work ethic — I’ve always had it since I was little. That work ethic, just pushing myself.”
And it was enough to keep him around.