Linebacker Shane Ray had eight sacks while making eight starts for the Broncos last season, but he’ll be starting twice as many games this season if he’s healthy and productive.
If he does remain in the lineup the whole season, Ray is shooting to at least double his sack total as well. DeMarcus Ware’s retirement has opened a spot for Ray across from Von Miller on the first team and Ray has set a goal of
“I want to be an All-Pro player,” Ray said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “That’s something that I aspire to every day. I feel like every big goal that I make, I’ve made smaller goals that can attain that for me. One goal that I said, I went back to how I was thinking in college. I said in college my junior year that I can average a sack a game. Nobody can honestly stop me from getting one sack a game. I look at that in the NFL and honestly I feel the same way. Nobody can block me for a whole game. One sack a game for me is equivalent to 16 games — that’s 16 sacks. That could lead the league, not to mention playoffs or any of that stuff. That’s how I break stuff down for me, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Sixteen sacks would have led the league last year and would put Ray at or near the top of the list in 2017. Ray’s teammates and coaches have expressed their belief that he has that kind of ability and he should have ample opportunity to show it off this year.
Ray’s chances of getting to that number won’t be totally up to him, however. If the Broncos can’t score more points on offense or do a better job of stopping the run than they did last year, they may not put Ray and Miller in position to pin their ears back on obvious passing downs often enough for Ray to realize his goal.