The Denver Broncos will have a DeMarcus Ware-shaped hole in their defense in 2017, after the pass rusher opted to end his likely Hall of Fame career this offseason.

While the Broncos still have star linebacker Von Miller to carry the load, they can’t rely on him alone to pressure opposing quarterbacks, which means third-year pro Shane Ray will be expected to make another a significant leap in his development – a challenge Miller believes Ray is capable of rising to.

“And Shane’s been ready,” Miller said this week, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. “He’s been ready for a long time.”

With Ware struggling through nagging back issues throughout last season, Ray started eight games (and appeared in 16) in his second NFL campaign, compiling eight sacks and proving he’s capable of being an every-down player.

“Shane being a starter from Day 1 – I think that will definitely help his game,” Miller said. “He’ll have to come out in key situations and be the guy this year.”

Filling the void left by Ware – one of the league’s all-time great pass rushers – will be no easy task, but Ray says he’s prepared to do whatever is asked of him.

“I’m ready for whatever they need me to do,” said Ray. “I understand better what it takes and being (Ware) and Von, you see it at the top level.”

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