Kendall Hinton's first snap in a regular season NFL game was at a position other than wide receiver, where he currently sits on the Broncos roster. Instead, Hinton played his first downs in an emergency quarterback capacity after COVID-19 protocols sidelined the entire Denver QB room for their matchup with New Orleans in 2020.
"It took me a while to realize that, 'OK, that was reality, like, that really happened, I was out there playing,'" Hinton recently told The Denver Post’s Sean Keeler. "It took me looking at pictures (later). It honestly didn't feel real during the game. It was like a dream."
Hinton went from a practice squad receiver to a Broncos QB overnight, and his sudden notoriety gave him the opportunity to share his unique story with Broncos Country.
"It kind of gave me the opportunity to share my story, my journey, and kind of how I got here," Hinton said. "Which resonated with other people, which inspired, motivated, and now helps people feel more comfortable with where they're at. I think that's one of the biggest things that's changed."
Though Hinton was a QB for three seasons at Wake Forest, he was not expecting to step into that position at the NFL level.
That start marked only the second time in the modern NFL era that a non-quarterback encountered a similar role — the other was Tom Matte, an emergency QB for the Baltimore Colts who passed away on Nov. 2, 2021, leaving Hinton as the lone living emergency QB.
"Now I'm the only one," Hinton said. "We definitely shared something special. Just that legacy. In the NFL, something like that happening is crazy. It doesn't happen. I don't know if anybody will ever get to be in that position again."
The Broncos would lose that game to New Orleans, but Hinton has since gone on to expand his role in the offense at his preferred position: wide receiver.
"Kendall is such a great kid, he's so even-keeled," Broncos Wide Receiver Coach Zach Azzanni said. "He wasn't like, 'Oh my God,' he was, 'OK, Coach, what time have I got to be there?' That's just how he's wired. Thank God. I don't know how many people would have (handled it) like that. "But my man's in the Hall of Fame now. How many guys can say that?"
Below the Fold
Running back Javonte Williams, on the heels of a Week 9 Rookie of the Week award, has continued to flash during his impressive rookie campaign. His performance so far this season has earned him an A-minusgrade in The Athletic’s breakdown of the Broncos.
Williams, who has rushed for 514 yards and a touchdown and added 136 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown this season, has been a one-man highlight reel for the Broncos each week.
"The second-round pick leads all NFL rookies in yards per carry at 4.99 and he is third in overall rushing yards (514) despite splitting carries down the middle with Gordon," The Athletic's Nick Kosmider wrote. "Williams breaks a tackle every 6.1 carries, according to Pro Football Reference, which leads all NFL running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts; his 17 total broken tackles are also tops in the league. He has been arguably the most consistently electric player on Denver's offense."