The emergence of undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin was one of the top storylines of training camp, with McLaughlin registering four touchdowns in three preseason games and earning a spot on Denver's initial 53-man roster.
On Sunday, McLaughlin continued to make his mark on the NFL's regular season. After starting running back Javonte Williams left the game with a hip injury, McLaughlin stepped up and made a difference in the passing and running game. The Youngstown State product finished the game with 104 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown in the Broncos' 31-28 win.
In Week 2, McLaughlin flashed his potential with a 5-yard touchdown run against the Washington Commanders. Against the Bears' defense, he continued his progress. McLaughlin recorded five plays that covered more than 10 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass and a 31-yard run to spark a third-quarter touchdown drive.
"He was spectacular," Wilson said of McLaughlin. "... The spirit of him is what's amazing — his confidence."
Head Coach Sean Payton said McLaughlin's role will increase in the coming weeks and was impressed by his performance.
"He was outstanding," Payton said. "He's hard to tackle. Good in space. [He] hit the screen for a touchdown [and] made some big runs. We'll keep expanding his role."
McLaughlin wasn't the only rookie to star on the Broncos' offense against the Bears. Wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. hauled in a 48-yard catch on Denver's field goal drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter, continuing Mims' trend of major gains this season.
"[Mims' catch] was a big play for us," Wilson said. "Obviously it helped us win the game."
Mims had a quiet afternoon for most of regulation, but he came up clutch when the Broncos needed a big play the most. His long catch helped set up kicker Wil Lutz's go-ahead 51-yard field goal.
In Denver's first win of the season, both of the young players played critical roles.