Malik Reed developing into Broncos’ most effective pass rusher

Malik Reed is cooking. Literally and figuratively.

The second-year Broncos outside linebacker got comfortable in the kitchen since coronavirus hit with the help of his wife, Cidavia, as a pandemic silver lining. You might be surprised by what Reed pulls from the oven.

“We tried our hand at cooking different dishes and trying new things, pastries and stuff like that,” Reed said. “It’s something we’ve definitely enjoyed.”

Count those hand-crafted meals as a welcomed reward for his day job — terrorizing quarterbacks. Reed, nicknamed “Dream Killer” by teammates last season, has lived up to his reputation ahead of Denver’s Sunday home game against New Orleans. Reed’s 6.5 sacks are tied for a team-high over 10 games this season.

“I’m blessed to be in this position,” Reed said. “It was being ready for the opportunity whenever it presented itself.”

The formula for Reed’s depth chart ascension mirrors his breakout rookie season. In 2019, Reed filled the gap left by Bradley Chubb’s ACL tear absence and started eight games with had a pair of sacks. In 2020, season-ending surgery for Von Miller once again opened the door.

However, Reed wasn’t guaranteed a starring role. Through the first four games, he didn’t register a single quarterback “disruption” — sacks, knockdowns or pressures — per The Denver Post’s game charting. Broncos outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu earned more snaps.

Everything changed in Week 4 when Attaochu sustained a leg injury. Reed became a starter and quickly developed into the Broncos’ most effective pass rusher. Over his past six games, Reed recorded 14.5 quarterback disruptions, and it’s not the only facet of his game on the rise.

“Playing outside linebacker, he does get to rush a little bit in our nickel and dime fronts. He improved his run play and he has improved his pass rush play,” coach Vic Fangio said. “I think (outside linebackers coach) John Pagano has done a good job with him in advancing him in his second year. You’re always hoping for a big jump from year one to year two. He got to play a lot due to Bradley’s injury last year and now he’s getting to play a lot this year due to Von’s injury.

“He’s taken full advantage of it. He’s a very conscientious player. He plays hard and you like to see good things happen to those types of people.”

Reed isn’t one to boast and believes his football success is deeply rooted in his Christian faith.

“I look at it as being a complete player and doing everything well,” Reed said. “Whether that’s playing the run, rushing the passer, or being able to drop into coverage a little bit, too. I feel like doing all those things well is how my game has continued to grow and develop.”

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