ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A season ago, Diontae Spencer took the next step in his career.
After averaging eight yards per punt return in 2019, Spencer averaged 15.8 yards per return in his second season with the Broncos.
Spencer appeared in just 11 games, but his punt-return average last season was second to only first-team All-Pro Gunner Olszewski's 17.3 yards per return among returners with at least 16 returns in 2020.
He also became the first Bronco to return a punt for a score since 2015, as he took a punt back 83 yards in a win over the Panthers.
"It definitely shifted the momentum of the game," Spencer said Thursday. "Everybody had a sense of urgency after that. It kind of carries everybody's momentum into the next play and the next series. Everybody is locked in. It's an exciting play. When you can get plays like that to help the offense and give the team a boost — eventually we ended up winning the game. If you can do those things on special teams and every now and then provide that spark, it just boosts the whole morale of the team."
A Pro Bowl alternate in 2019, Spencer has displayed the production that could earn his first selection in 2021. For his game to advance to that level, Spencer will aim to take a holistic approach.
"For me, my growth is figuring out the whole scheme and everything with the guys up front," Spencer said. "I've been returning pretty much my whole career, so I'm comfortable to get back there and pretty much take control of everything. This year I just want to grow into learning what everyone does up front and making my job easier. So, if I can know what's going on up front and see it before it happens, game day is going to be smooth. That's pretty much what I'm trying to work on this year. It was a big jump from Year 1 to now, and I feel more comfortable. I feel like special teams is going to be a big part of this team's success. That's all I've been working on."
While he's largely cut his teeth as a returner since joining the Broncos in 2019, Spencer said he's also ready to contribute on offense when needed. He's caught nine passes over the last two years for 57 yards and two first downs, and he's also added six rushes for 25 yards.
"I feel like we have so many different weapons on offense," Spencer said. "Everybody has a different skill set and guys can do multiple things. It's one of those things where when my number gets called and they draw the play up for me, I can go in there and execute it. I know my skill set. One thing I've been working on is becoming a better all-around receiver and working my game. Coach 'Z' [Wide Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni] — he's done a great job with just teaching the little things, and I feel like I've gotten better.
"For me to be at this point and get reps on offense and contribute on that end, and also on special teams, I just think it'll benefit the team in the long run. Whenever my number gets called, I can go in there and pretty much do anything."