Russell Wilson helping Patrick Surtain II build for his second NFL season

During his three seasons at Alabama, cornerback Patrick Surtain II practiced against three quarterbacks who are now NFL starters – Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles, Mac Jones of the New England Patriots and Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins – and one who won the Heisman Trophy – Bryce Young.

Surtain said that kind of practice competition helped make him ready to step directly into the Denver Broncos’ starting secondary as a rookie in 2021. As Surtain prepares for his second NFL season, he’s going against Russell Wilson at practice after the Broncos obtained the nine- time Pro Bowl quarterback in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks in March.

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At a Thursday press conference, Surtain was asked to compare his college practices against a lineup of future NFL quarterbacks with his current work against Wilson.

“He’s got experience. That’s something that’s different, ”Surtain said. “He’s been in the league. He’s won Super Bowls, MVPs, all that, so he’s been in the game for a long time, so he understands the game and situations.

“Being able to just compete out there, compete at a high level each and every day, that helped me perform as a player on Sundays, so when you got a quarterback back there that’s able to do those things that will help you in the long run. ”

The Broncos started their Organized Team Activity practices this week, and Surtain has already seen how hard Wilson can make it for defensive backs.

“He made a throw yesterday on me,” Surtain said on Thursday. “It was a great ball. I was in great coverage. It was just an amazing throw all around. …

“It helps me a lot, going against premier talent like that with a great quarterback and great perimeter players. That helps me as a player build on my game, so it’s always great going against them. ”

Building is what Surtain seeks to do in 2022 after earning a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team in 2021. Surtain limited quarterbacks throwing his way to a passing-efficiency rating of 61.3 as they completed 49-of-96 passes for 545 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions across 902 snaps in 16 games.

“I think the next step is to keep on building on that, keep on growing, keep on learning every day because in the league, you learn from experience,” Surtain said. “That’s the best thing about it is growing and utilizing your time wisely so you can understand what it takes to be a pro in this league, so that’s what I’m doing. …

“I’m still growing and learning, so each and every day is a new step, a process to that part where I want to be, and that’s being the best version of myself, so I’m going to strive to be that every day. ”

Denver hasn’t posted a winning record since 2016, but Wilson is expected to lift the Broncos’ fortunes in 2022. Surtain expects the secondary to do its part, too.

Former Alabama standout Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons return at safety, and Ronald Darby is back after he, Surtain and Kyle Fuller served as the Broncos’ busiest cornerbacks in 2021. Denver also added seven-year veteran CB K’Waun Williams in free agency and cornerbacks Damarri Mathis of Pittsburgh and Faion Hicks of Wisconsin and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell of Oklahoma in the NFL Draft last month.

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“I expect a lot,” Surtain said. “I expect tremendous play out there. We got tremendous talent on the perimeter, on the inside, so you know it should be a very exciting year. We’re going to make a lot of plays, and we’re going to be ballhawks, so it should be very fun. ”

Denver has seven OTA practices and a three-day mandatory minicamp left on its offseason schedule.

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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @ AMarkG1.

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