Gaining strength is fine, but it's how Lelie applies it that counts.
During the Broncos' morning practice Monday, he was aligned in the slot during red-zone drills. His assignment was to take an angle to strong-side linebacker D.J. Williams and cut him off on a running play.
At the snap, Williams bolted toward the line of scrimmage with an aggressive charge. Lelie met him, got his pads low . . .
And was sent off-kilter into the direction of the backfield.
The result wasn't the point. More important was Lelie's attitude to get his nose in the action and fight, manufactured or not.
'Out of character'
"That's probably the hardest thing," Lelie said. "Everything on the field kind of comes easy for me except being cocky and super-aggressive and that's something I've got to work on because it's out of my character. . . . But it's an aggressive, violent game and you can't be in the game just cool, calm and relaxed; you have to be aggressive and violent, so I've got to get that in me."
Something else Lelie needs is a dose of confidence from Plummer and the coaching staff to get the shorter and intermediate routes sent his way more often.
"We've asked him to do it but definitely not as much as we've asked a guy like Rod to do it," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "Everybody has their strengths. But it's our fault as coaches, too. We've got to get him in there making those tough plays underneath."
That lack of trust to look for Lelie anywhere but downfield has perhaps manifested itself most near the goal line.
Lelie made only one red-zone catch among his career-best 54 receptions last season, but, as he explained after watching the breakdown tape, there were only about five opportunities in that area for him to catch passes all season.
That was the embarrassing part. Not the lack of catches but the lack of confidence to go his way in money time.
"It's Rod or a running back or a tight end and the other guys are a decoy," Lelie said. "And that's not cool."
The skills are there