After drops, Broncos' Jerry Jeudy determined to prove 'failure is growth'

Jerry Jeudy shows off impressive footwork and agility (0:43)

Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy puts his footwork and agility on display in a workout. (0:43)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There is a welcome-to-the-NFL moment, and then there is what Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had this past Monday.

After a training camp in which Jeudy, the Broncos' first-round pick in April's draft, received compliments for his work, approach and potential on a daily basis, his game debut featured something he never expected.

Two drops -- and not just two drops that might have been tough catches but two drops in key situations on well-thrown passes. There's an argument to be made that if Jeudy had caught one of them, dropped in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Broncos would be 1-0 right now.

"Drops happen. Those plays are ones I usually make," Jeudy said. "When that happened, I was focusing too much on running with the ball [more] than catching the ball. That's what happened. Took my eyes off the ball. ... Two dropped passes in my first game. [People] might think I'm nervous. That's really not the case. It was just not concentrating on the ball. ... It doesn't really mess up my mind -- for real."

Any review of his résumé or discussions with coaches and teammates will quickly reveal that the list of things Jeudy has done to get to the NFL doesn't include pouting, moping or feeling sorry for himself. Or, as he put it Tuesday on social media, "failure is growth."

One thing, beyond his oh-so-obvious talent, that has stood out to teammates is that the 21-year-old Jeudy is all about business when it comes to football. Several Broncos players said during training camp that they arrived to the team's facility thinking they were among the earliest, only to find Jeudy already watching game and practice video.

In the big picture, Jeudy's debut was a fairly successful affair, with four catches for 56 yards. The Titans thought enough of the rookie that they had former Patriots Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler across from Jeudy for more than a few of the pivotal snaps in the game.

The drops, however, including the one with just more than four minutes remaining, weighed heavily on the rookie.

"In college football, you get 90-plus plays, and in the NFL, there's a minimal amount of plays that you get to run, and you have to bring an extreme focus all the time," quarterback Drew Lock said. "Because I feel like I know Jerry, he wanted to do well so bad that he kind of forced some things on himself. It's kind of what I did in my first start. I forced a couple balls into some windows because I wanted to win so bad. ... It comes down to he learned his lesson. There's a certain way you can come in and stay relaxed play-by-play."

Lock said that Jeudy apologized to his teammates and likened the drops to a good shooter in basketball who missed "a couple layups." Jeudy was one of the most sure-handed prospects in the draft, with many personnel executives saying he was the best route-runner in an extraordinarily deep class of wide receivers. He showed those skills Monday against the Titans.

ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, a former NFL defensive back and longtime personnel executive, repeatedly used the word "special" to describe Jeudy's ability to set up even veteran defensive backs, saying, "if you're not patient, Jerry Jeudy will make you look silly."

"I felt pretty comfortable. Other than the two drops, I thought I did a good job," Jeudy said. "I was getting open, getting separation."

Depending on how quickly Courtland Sutton returns from his shoulder injury, the Broncos are going to have to lean on Jeudy. With Sutton out of the lineup, Jeudy was the only one of the team's wide receivers who had more than 30 yards receiving in Monday's game, and he was the only wide receiver who was targeted more than five times by Lock.

Sutton was back in practice Wednesday and might be back -- if somewhat limited -- for Sunday's game against the Steelers. Jeudy says he has already moved on to Week 2.

"Two drops. It was two critical drops, one on third down and one that could have changed the momentum of the game," Jeudy said. "And I felt like I failed my team on those two plays, but me learning from that, going out, practicing hard, focus on catching the ball, focusing on the little details ... those two drops probably helped for not dropping passes the whole season."