ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos are deeply saddened after being informed of the death of
"Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley," President and CEO Pat Bowlen said. "He was part of the Broncos family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny's family and friends."
McKinley, a fifth-round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, played in eight games with the Broncos as a rookie. He returned seven kickoffs for 158 yards along with three punts for 32 yards. He was the only rookie in the league that season to average at least 22 yards on kickoff returns and 10 yards on punt returns. In the 2009 preseason, he caught 16 passes for 213 yards -- including a 52-yard touchdown.
He was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the 2010 season after suffering a knee injury.
"Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "This is a tragic loss for our football team, and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
McKinley starred at the University of South Carolina, finishing his career with 207 receptions and 2,781 receiving yards, both of which were school records and ranked third and 11th all-time, respectively, in SEC history. South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier once called McKinley the best receiver he has ever coached.
The Georgia native earned all-county honors as a junior and senior quarterback at South Cobb High School before joining the Gamecocks.
The organization is still collecting information on the receiver's passing. McDaniels is scheduled to meet the press at approximately noon MDT Tuesday.
McKinley was born on January 31, 1987. He was 23 years old.