They were a part of the Denver Broncos’ rookie class last season, but Quanterus Smith and Lerentee McCray didn't get to run in the offense, as Montee Ball did, or start on defense, as Sylvester Williams did. Smith and McCray were relegated to interested bystander status as the team went about the business of a Super Bowl trip, spending the season on injured reserve.

But the Broncos believed time would heal the two, and in a defensive makeover where Smith and McCray aren’t often listed as two of the “new" faces, they have each shown they’ll make some impact in the defense as the Broncos try to add a little production on that side of the ball.

“You hope so," McCray said. “I just know it feels great to be out there, try to show what I can do."

Smith tore an ACL in the 11th game of his senior season at Western Kentucky. He was leading the nation in sacks at the time with 12.5, including three sacks against an Alabama offensive line that was stocked with NFL draft picks.

The Broncos saw enough to take him with the first of their fifth-round picks in the 2013 draft, and even as Smith kept saying he would “be full go" by the time the 2013 regular season rolled around, the Broncos weren’t convinced. After watching Smith work through training camp and the preseason last year, the place him on injured reserve when they cut the roster to 53 players.

“He just needed more time," said Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway. “You could kind of see that as he went through camp and as we’ve gone through offseason, you can see it helped him."

For his part McCray, who had been signed as an undrafted rookie following the 2013 draft, was on track to make the roster and keep a decade-long streak of at least one undrafted rookie advancing past the final cut. Then he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals.