Lloyd closing in on first 1,000-yard season
It's taken a long time for Brandon Lloyd to show what he's really capable of.
He had stints in San Francisco, Washington and Chicago before the Denver Broncos signed him in June 2009. Then he even sat the first 14 games with the Broncos before getting a chance to dress for a ballgame.
Throughout that time it would have been fair to call him nothing more than a talented journeyman. Things change. In his eighth year, Lloyd is now just 32 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season.
''It doesn't mean that much,'' Lloyd said this week. ''I work hard. I always have. I'm dedicated. I'm devoted. This is just something that happened. I think I've been prepared for it my entire career and I didn't do anything extra this year to make it happen. It was just the right place, right time, right opportunity. I'm just seizing the moment.''
His 968 yards to date are just one off Rod Smith's team record for best start in franchise history through 10 games. Lloyd has at least one 40-yard catch or longer in five of the last six games in leading all receivers (minimum 40 catches) with a 20.4-yard average per catch.
''Some systems just put guys in better situations,'' said Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who was teammates with Lloyd with the Bears in 2008, when Lloyd finished with just 26 catches for 364 yards. ''We weren't a passing team in Chicago. That's just the way it was. He still played well there, it's just you're going to get different results with different schemes.''
In Denver, Lloyd is the player charged with stretching the field. Defenses have put safeties over the top, matched him with their best cornerback and he still manages to produce.
''I think coach (Josh) McDaniels puts the players he thinks are going to help the team be successful out there on the field. I don't think that's always the case on other teams,'' Lloyd said in helping explain his breakout season.
Denver currently has three players with 40-plus catches.
But Lloyd has been the most consistently dangerous.
''It's tough in this league with the rules how it is to totally take away a guy, just double coverage,'' Orton said. ''So throw it up and let him go grab it.''
Lloyd, 29, admitted he had no expectations about the kind of season he might be able to have with Denver diversifying the passing offense with Brandon Marshall traded to Miami.
''I signed a two-year deal and I was just going to take it a day at a time. Go through camp. Get through camp. Get through preseason. Get to the regular season,'' Lloyd said. ''But not having expectations didn't mean I didn't have confidence, because I have a lot of confidence in my ability and always have. But as far as what am I going to get? What are my goals? I didn't have any. I just don't do that because I don't like being let down.''
McDaniels actually scouted Lloyd's college pro day at the University of Illinois. He remembers seeing great hands, great leaping ability - ''the traits you look for in an explosive receiver.''
''I can't comment on the things he's gone through as far as being on other teams and why it didn't work out at one place or another,'' the coach said. ''I just think his skill set is a good fit for what we're trying to with him.''