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Surtain takes 'pride' in leadership role with Broncos' secondary

Cooper Neill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Star cornerback Pat Surtain II is embracing his new role as the unquestioned leader of the Denver Broncos' secondary ahead of his fourth season.

"I take very much pride in it because that's how the team views me," Surtain told the Denver Post's Ryan McFadden. "I'm blessed to be in the role that I'm now, so I just got to set an example.

"I've dealt with it my whole life. ... Living up to those expectations and making a name for myself excites me the most."

Surtain's father played 11 years in the NFL. The Florida native was a touted high school prospect when he joined Alabama and started 12 games his freshman season. Denver selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2021.

Broncos defensive back coach Jim Leonhard is confident that Surtain's impact can translate on the field as well as off of it.

"He's getting to a point in his career where his voice goes a long way," Leonhard said.

Surtain has quickly ascended as one of the NFL's top corners. He was named a first-team All-Pro after his 2022 campaign and earned his second straight Pro Bowl nod last season. The Alabama product is eligible for a lucrative extension this offseason that could exceed an annual average salary of $20 million.

Denver exercised the fifth-year option in Surtain's rookie contract, which will keep him with the franchise through the 2025 season.

The Broncos are ushering in a youth movement after parting ways with some veteran voices, including Russell Wilson and Justin Simmons. However, Surtain is optimistic that Denver's young secondary can turn its fortunes around after surrendering 370.8 yards per game last season.

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