Unsung Broncos Rookie to Earn First NFL Start, Could Fuel Playoff Push

Getty Denver Broncos rookie guard Quinn Meinerz will be counted upon to help direct the new-look offensive line, as the team makes a push towards the playoffs.

It may be a rare occurrence to think that an offensive lineman can help spearhead a playoff push. And it may be even rarer to believe a rookie from a D-3 school can be a key cog, but that’s what the Denver Broncos are hoping can happen, as guard Quinn Meinerz takes the starting reins.

The guy with the viral pre-draft workout video, who was a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft out of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Meinerz will be inserted into the starting right guard position when the Broncos (5-4) host the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) on November 14.

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Into the Deep End

The learning curve for Meinerz no longer exists, as he’ll be counted on by the coaching staff to help solidify the injury-ravaged and new-look offensive line. The game against the Eagles won’t be Meinerz’s first appearance of 2021, as he’s entered games in relief, but going forward, the rookie will be looked upon as a cornerstone of the offensive line.

The fact that Meinerz is now being expected to take a major leap in his development — he went from not playing a snap in the Broncos’ first two games, to starting right guard from here on out — shows just how much faith the coaching staff has in him.

Meinerz came off the bench in the November 7 upset win at the Dallas Cowboys, and made a pulling block downfield that helped fellow rookie Javonte Williams gain about 10 more yards than he should’ve, on the running back’s impressive and ‘angry’ 30-yard run.

Video of the play went viral, as even the on-air commentators had to give Meinerz a shout out for his effort that helped spring his running back.

Belly Be Gone

Meinerz has an outsized personality that earned him national acclaim as the draft neared. Part of his charm, besides the dreads and the yeoman’s work to grow out his beard, is the fact that Meinerz is also known for the way he proudly flaunted his protruding belly during his collegiate career and all the through the Broncos’ 2021 training camp.

But now that he’s entrenched as the full-time replacement for the injured Graham Glasgow, Meinerz has decided to take the spotlight away from his gut and focus solely on his on-field duties.

As Denver 9News’ Mike Klis tweeted, Meinerz has put his “Belly” t-shirts on the backburner for the foreseeable future.

As Klis pointed out, Meinerz is so very serious about his starting opportunity that the outside ventures — no matter how important — have to take a backseat to his on-field goals.

“I’m a rookie, first of all,” Meinerz said during the November 11 media availability. “And second of all, I’m a professional now. I’m not going out looking for attention or anything like that. I want to lay low, earn my stripes, and earn my place in the National Football League, and earn myself a spot here on the Denver Broncos in the future.”

Heart as Gig as His Gut

Meinerz started a charitable foundation, in early 2021, for a friend of his, creating “Belly of the Beast” t-shirts for sale.

“I wanted to raise money for a girl in my town. Her name is Alaina Shelsta,” Meinerz said during a pre-draft interview in 2021. “Her father was my offensive line coach in high school, so I’ve always had this idea in the back of my head that I wanted to raise money for her. She suffers from GLUT1, which is an extremely rare [deficiency]. That’s what I wanted to do. I don’t really like the spotlight, so I wanted to take that and raise money for someone that means a lot to me.”

The rookie noted that 100% of the profits went towards the charity, but he’s put the venture to the side, as to not be a distraction. He’s all football, all the time now.

“The Belly shirts have been discontinued for a while, now,” Meinerz said on November 11. “It was just kind of a small thing I was doing with one of my family members back home. Maybe something in the future, but I can’t comment on that right now.”

As of right now, there’ll be no more flashing the belly, or catchy t-shirts, as Meinerz is now fully locked in as the Denver Broncos’ full-time starter at right guard.

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8

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