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Journeyman Bernard Pierce lands in Denver with the Broncos

June 14, 2017 Updated: June 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm
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photo - Denver Broncos running back Bernard Pierce during a drill Tuesday, May 23, 2017, as players took part in an NFL football organized team activities session at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos running back Bernard Pierce during a drill Tuesday, May 23, 2017, as players took part in an NFL football organized team activities session at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

Bernard Pierce has found a new home with the Denver Broncos.

There are no guarantees how long that will last, as the Bronco backfield is cluttered with former starters and up-and-comers. Pierce understands this. He says he's willing to take any role coach Vance Joseph and his staff see fit.

"I just come out here every day and grind it out man," Pierce said. "There's a lot of backs out here that have talent. Each of us are better at certain things than the others, but as a group, you know, we're a damn good stable."

Pierce's adaptive attitude is nothing new. After all, he's touched the football just nine times and for three teams since 2015.

Pierce began with the Baltimore Ravens, where he played three strong seasons in a backup role to Ray Rice. But he was released from the team in March 2015 following a DUI.

The next season, he had three receptions and six carries for 18 total yards with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being placed on injured reserve in December.

Then, Pierce signed with the New York Jets. He didn't last a month, as a nagging hamstring injury put him back on injured reserve before the season began. An injury settlement left him a free agent, but nobody called. He had some healing to do before any teams would pick him up.

So Pierce got to work.

"I didn't take it to heart," Pierce said. "I understood, you know, that it's a profession. It's the life we live. It was hard. Once I got better I was honestly just training every day. I haven't had an offseason yet. I like it that way, though. It keeps me busy, and it makes sure I stay in shape."

That hard work has landed him in Denver. And though it isn't clear what Pierce's role will be in the future, he has tried to become a sort of mentor for the younger running backs.

"It's always good to have that experienced figure in your ear," Pierce said. "When I was in Baltimore, I had Ray (Rice), I had Vonta (Leach). Now, I'm a legit, legit vet. Like De'Angelo (Henderson), he comes to me like, 'BP, what do we have on this? What do we have on that?' or 'How do you do this better? How do you do that?' It's just, be an on-the-field coach. Because, at the end of the day, like, if he gets put in the game and he does something wrong but he was asking about it, then you didn't fix anything. You were a part of the problem."

Added offensive coordinator Mike McCoy: "It's always nice to have those guys that have been thrown in the fire before and have gone on and been successful. I'm glad we have him on our roster."

After their mandatory minicamp finishes Thursday, the Broncos have a sizable break before training camp. It's a time when staying in shape can be pivotal for players who aren't guaranteed a roster spot.

Pierce is ready for the challenges ahead. He knows he has to train harder than ever to keep up with the same players he's giving advice to, planning a regimen of "cardio, massages and more cardio" for coming weeks to maintain any progress.

It's a change from Pierce's earlier seasons when he might have taken time to relax on his weeks off. But with all the turmoil he's faced in recent years, Pierce has learned his lesson.

"My first two or three years, offseason was like, 'Oh, offseason's here, let's have fun,'" Pierce said. "Now, it's like, 'Don't lose a step because every year there's younger guys coming in and trying to knock you off.'

"... Like I said, it's a part of the game. Can't get mad at it, man, just live with it."

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