Skip to main content

Denver Broncos | News

Broncos may have found a dynamic returner -- or three

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Brock Olivo knows special teams talent.

He saw it all season at his previous stop in Kansas City, where Tyreek Hill sprinted his way to two punt returns touchdowns and one kickoff return for six.

The rookie sensation, who made the Pro Bowl in his first year, was an offensive weapon, as well. But it was his special teams play that changed games, including the Broncos' home matchup against the Chiefs.

And so, after the 2017 NFL Draft, Olivo must be thrilled.

The Broncos' new Special Teams Coordinator now has players who can provide a spark to a return game that has been lacking explosion.

Wide receiver Carlos Henderson, Brendan Langley and Isaiah McKenzie all fit the bill as fast, dynamic players that could contribute immediately in the punt and kickoff return games.

Henderson and Langley were introduced Saturday, and both players were adamant about the emphasis they'd place on special teams even as they fight for spots in the wide receiver and cornerback rotations, respectively. 

"Special teams, for me, is just as important as running around and blocking for a running back that's getting the ball," Henderson said. "Like I said, I'm here to help the team, whatever the team wants me to do. I'm a team player, so I take special teams just as seriously as I take running around and catching the ball."

Added Langley: "I love returning punts. Returning punts is a little bit different than returning kickoffs. You get a little more room to dance, just a little bit. On kickoffs, you have to hit the hole a little bit quicker. I think I'll be able to contribute at a high level returning punts.

"We've got some great special teams coaches here who will teach me how to catch the ball, read runners coming down the field, when to fair catch and not to fair catch, things like that. I think once I get the grasp of it, I think I can be one of the best in the league."

That would be a welcome development for Olivo and the rest of the Broncos organization.

There were bright spots in the kickoff-return game, including several returns that went for more than 40 yards. But as a whole, the team averaged just 22.9 yards per kickoff return and 6.8 yards per punt return, and the longest punt return of the season was just 25 yards.

Throw in the fact that the Broncos haven't housed a punt since Nov. 18, 2015 or a kickoff since Sept. 29, 2013, and there was more than enough evidence that the return game needed an influx of talent.

"We concentrated on guys that could play their position very well but also be contributers on special teams," Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway said. "And then we wanted to find some returners." 

McKenzie, whom the Broncos traded up to grab in the fifth round, may end up being the best of the bunch. He scored six times on returns as a Georgia Bulldog, and while his size may be a concern as a receiver, the speed that accompanies it is a great attribute.

"I feel like I can make an immediate impact," McKenzie said. "I love special teams. I love returning the ball. I feel like I can come in and catch punts, kicks, and do the best things I can do. On the offensive side of the ball, I can play wide receiver, a little bit of slot and a little bit of running back. I feel like I can make an immediate impact."

After the Broncos watched what Hill did last year, they can't develop their own weapon quickly enough.

There's certainly no guarantee Henderson, Langley or McKenzie will develop into the next Hill or Trindon Holliday.

But right now, the Broncos have potential at the return spots. 

And right now, that's more than enough.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content