His standout play has allowed him to continue to get more practice time with the first-string group this week. Washington says he understands he still has a lot to learn despite his success, but he credits the veteran wide receivers for giving advice and encouragement to help him improve — particularly fellow speedster KJ Hamler.
“Everybody’s just been so nice, just helping with everything,” Washington said. “Some plays here and there, just [telling me] to calm down. Especially KJ, that’s my guy. KJ, when I first got here, was one of the first ones to come up to me and [say], ‘Hey man, relax, take it all in, enjoy it, don’t overthink things. Yeah, it is a lot, but at the end of the day you’re here for a reason.’ I’m just glad to have those guys in my corner just helping me out.”
Hamler, who is slowly working his way back into practice from injury, has been a great resource for Washington. The third-year wide receiver has helped the rookie gain confidence and learn the nuances of playing in the NFL, though Hamler is adamant that Washington would not be able to beat him in a race.
“Montrell’s my boy, he’s learning from me,” Hamler said. “I kind of take him under my wing because rookies always come in thinking too much, worried about the plays and stuff, so he’s gotten way better just asking me questions, being a sponge and just absorbing stuff. I’ve kind of been his bigger brother in this whole process.”
Though you wouldn’t know it from Washington’s stellar play in practice, the jump to the NFL has been a big adjustment. Compared to his conference of small schools, the pace of play at the professional level is faster, strategies are more complex and the fans show up in droves.
Washington, who always seems to have a positive outlook, is taking it all in stride.
“In college you’ve got a little leeway to have little mishaps here and there, but now there’s no room for error,” Washington said. “Things have got to be perfect. If [Wilson] wants to throw a corner ball, he’s going to throw it to a spot so you’ve got to be in that spot, small things like that.
“For my college games we had a couple fans, but we’ve had more fans here [at training camp] than I’ve had at my actual college games, so just to be a part of this is a dream come true. I can’t stop smiling.”
The coaching staff has praised Washington for being one of the hardest workers on the team, and that work ethic becomes clear once practice has wrapped up every day. Even after most of the players have gone into the locker room, Washington stays on the field to get extra reps. On Monday, he spent more than 15 minutes after practice running red-zone routes for quarterback Josh Johnson.
“Just learning,” Washington said of his extra work after practice. “Trying to better myself, doing things to, when my number’s called, be able to help the team out and do what I’ve got to do when it’s my turn. Just trying to learn everything, slow and steady, day by day.”
Based on the opportunities he’s gotten so far in training camp, Washington could have a more dynamic role on the team than many people initially expected. The rookie’s hard work is paying off in big ways, and Washington is showing that he has what it takes to become reliable for the Broncos in multiple phases of the game.