With the team’s final roster cuts looming and the wide receiver’s status still up in the air, the Broncos’ fifth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft could only sit back and hope for the best while awaiting the next chapter of his football career.
Fast-forward to mid-October, and King’s path has taken him to an auspicious destination: a place on the Broncos’ active 53-man roster.
After being waived by the Broncos on Aug. 31 – and then subsequently signed to the team’s practice squad the next day – King spent the first six weeks of the NFL season working and learning on the eight-man practice squad. That is, until Tuesday, when the Broncos activated King to the 53-man roster.
“It feels good,” King said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted. It’s a dream come true.”
Joining the 53-man roster, however, means that King’s work is truly just beginning.
“Nothing changes for me. I’ve got to continue to work, continue to grind,” King said. “I’ve got to grind even harder than I was a week ago. I’m just excited. My family, friends and loved ones are all excited, but nothing changes.”
The rookie out of Georgia caught five passes for 64 yards in the preseason – including a 31-yard reception in the preseason finale against the Cardinals – but he noted that most important thing he’s learned from his time on the practice squad since then is the constant dedication and attention to detail required every day.
“Just that consistency is key in this league,” King said. “Every day you wake up, you’ve got a little ache or bruise, but you’ve got to come to work ready to go.”
Head Coach John Fox said he doesn't even like to refer to it as the practice squad.
“I call it the developmental squad," he said. "You’re trying to develop young players that can plug on your 53-man roster as the season wears on."
"He’s gotten better," he said of King. "He’s a young player that’s developing."
King noted that he’s tried to pattern his work ethic after the Broncos’ corps of veteran receivers – who he has studied and tried to learn from – in order to develop that consistency.
“That’s the great thing that I have learned from guys like
King also noted that getting work on the scout team – and facing the Broncos’ starting defense in practice – has been pivotal to developing both his skillset and his confidence on the field.
“On that squad, that’s how you’re going to get better – going up against the Champ Baileys, (
“So when you do get open those one or two times against those great corners, you feel good about yourself and it gives you some confidence,” he added. “It makes you feel like you can play in this league. It’s been a pretty neat experience.”
And it’s a reminder of how the young receiver’s career has progressed. Five years ago, King was a redshirt freshman at Georgia – now, he lines up in practice across from Bailey, another former Bulldog – and a 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback who has been a lynchpin in the Broncos secondary for years.
“It was crazy,” he said. “The first time I went up against Champ in training camp, it was kind of surreal. I looked across the line and I’m almost like, ‘Dang, that’s
But ultimately, the opportunity to line up against players like Bailey is something that King says has helped his development – and it’s something that he’ll continue to learn and grow from as he looks to help contribute to the Broncos.
“We’re here to make each other better, and they’re doing that – and hopefully I can continue to do that for them,” King said.