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Football Operations

Keith Burns
Assistant Special Teams
College:
Oklahoma State
Experience:
7

Keith Burns begins his seventh season on the Denver Broncos’ staff in 2013, following a 13-year playing career in which he became one of the most accomplished special teams players in the NFL. Burns, who played for the Broncos for 11 years, has worked with the club’s special teams for the last six years. He was named to his current position as assistant special teams coach on Jan. 27, 2011.

During six seasons assisting with the instruction of Denver’s special teams, Burns has worked with a unit that has accounted for 10 return touchdowns (6 punt return, 4 kickoff return) and three blocked kicks (2 punts, 1 extra point) in addition to posting the sixth-best punt return average (10.3 yds.) in the NFL. The Broncos also have posted the most touchbacks on kickoffs (194) in the league over that span.

Keith Burns begins his seventh season on the Denver Broncos’ staff in 2013, following a 13-year playing career in which he became one of the most accomplished special teams players in the NFL. Burns, who played for the Broncos for 11 years, has worked with the club’s special teams for the last six years. He was named to his current position as assistant special teams coach on Jan. 27, 2011.

During six seasons assisting with the instruction of Denver’s special teams, Burns has worked with a unit that has accounted for 10 return touchdowns (6 punt return, 4 kickoff return) and three blocked kicks (2 punts, 1 extra point) in addition to posting the sixth-best punt return average (10.3 yds.) in the NFL. The Broncos also have posted the most touchbacks on kickoffs (194) in the league over that span.

Individually, Burns has coached five players who have totaled eight AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards with kickers Matt Prater (4) and Jason Elam (1) along with returners Trindon Holliday (1), Glenn Martinez (1) and Eddie Royal (1) earning recognition from the NFL. Prater and Royal also were tabbed AFC Special Teams Player of the Month by the league.

Denver’s kickers in 2012 made history as Prater set a team record for points by a kicker (133) and Colquitt broke his own single-season net punting average mark (42.1). Holliday joined the team in Week 6 and totaled four return scores for the Broncos in the regular season and playoffs. 

Working with Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers in 2011, the unit improved from No. 26 in the Dallas Morning News’ 2010 special teams rankings to No. 10—a jump that represented the second-largest improvement in the league. 

The Broncos’ punt return group ranked third in the NFL (12.7 avg.) in 2011 while tying for second in the league with two return touchdowns. Punter Britton Colquitt set franchise single-season records for gross (47.4) and net punting (40.2) averages, and Prater tied Elam’s NFL record with four game-winning field goals on the last play of regulation or overtime.

The Broncos had one of the NFL’s top kickoff coverage units in 2009 as Burns worked with a group that placed third in the league in average opponent drive start after kickoffs (22.9-yard line). Royal, who ranked seventh in the NFL in punt return average (11.2 yds.), became the 11th player in league history to have both a kickoff and punt return touchdown in the same game (at San Diego, 10/19/09). Prater made 19 of his final 20 field goal attempts and tied for the third-most field goals for a season in club history (30).

In 2008, Burns’ work with Denver’s special teams helped college free agent punter Brett Kern earn consensus All-Rookie honors after posting the fifth-best gross punting average (46.7 yds.) in the league. Royal, in his rookie year, placed seventh in the NFL in kickoff return average (26.1 yds.) while also handling punt return duties.

Burns instructed a Broncos special teams unit in 2007 that played a key role in several victories as Elam became the first player since the 1970 NFL merger to convert four walk-off, game-winning field goals in the same season (2 in regulation, 2 in overtime).

During his playing career with the Broncos from 1994-98, 2000-03 and ‘05-06, Burns led the team or tied for its season high in special-teams tackles seven times and totaled 186 special-teams stops in 166 career games (3 starts) with the club. Burns, whose 166 career games played with Denver tie for the 14th most by a player in club history, also added 70 defensive tackles (47 solo), 1.5 sacks (9 yds.), two pass breakups and one forced fumble as a Bronco.

A key member of the Broncos’ teams that won Super Bowl XXXII in 1997 and XXXIII in 1998, Burns helped Denver earn three AFC West titles (1996, ‘98, 2005) along with six playoff berths (1996-98, 2000, ‘03, ‘05). His 12 career postseason games with Denver tie for the 10th most by a player in team history.

Burns entered the NFL with Denver as a seventh-round choice (210th overall) in the 1994 NFL Draft from Oklahoma State University. In addition to playing for the Broncos, he spent the 1999 season with the Chicago Bears and the 2004 campaign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For his entire NFL career, Burns played 197 games (3 starts) and totaled 231 special-teams tackles. He also posted 77 career defensive stops (50 solo), 1.5 sacks (9 yds.), one interception (15 yds.), three pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Burns is a native of Greeleyville, S.C., and was born on May 16, 1972. He and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters (Danielle and Rachel) and one son (Keith).

COACHING EXPERIENCE

Denver Broncos
Assistant Special Teams 2011-13
Coaching Assistant 2009-10
Special Teams Assistant 2007-08

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