In a tough 17-10 loss to the Titans, rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil was a bright spot for the Broncos.
Virgil was the lone undrafted free agent to make the Broncos' initial 53-man roster in August, and he made his regular season debut in the Broncos' Week 10 game against Tennessee. The Broncos were not able to get the win, but the rookie's debut was a memorable one — the first catch of his career was a 66-yard touchdown to give Denver an early lead.
"It was awesome," Virgil said. "... [Quarterback Russell Wilson] checked to a play where we all pushed it vertical down the field, and I popped up open and Russ gave me a good ball, and I was able to finish it."
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the game that while the Broncos have several issues to address offensively, he was pleased with Virgil's ability to come in and make a big play.
"Jalen Virgil came up big for us on a ball that Russ had, which was great to see, but we've got to do a great job protecting Russ and we've got to find a way to run the ball," Hackett said.
Despite making the initial 53-man roster, Virgil has been working all season to earn an opportunity to play. With wide receiver KJ Hamler inactive due to a hamstring injury, Virgil got an opportunity and made the most of it.
"It meant a lot," Virgil said. "It's been a lot to get to this moment, but I'm definitely blessed and hopefully I can keep building off of it."
Below the Fold
The Broncos' offense was limited by multiple injuries against the Titans; right tackle Billy Turner and guard/center Graham Glasgow both left the game with injuries, while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy suffered an ankle injury on the Broncos' first offensive play of the game. While those injuries were costly, the team embraces a next-man-up mentality.
"It's just tough to see those guys go down," tight end Greg Dulcich said after the game. "I mean, those are your best friends, those are your buddies, those are your teammates, so you never like to see them go down. But, you know, it's always next man up, and everyone that came in — Jalen scored a touchdown, first catch, that was awesome. And Luke [Wattenberg] and Quinn [Bailey], they did a great job coming in with the O-line. Everyone stepped up and everyone knew what they had to do. Everyone got their job done. Just as an offense, we've all got to be better."
Dulcich added that Virgil, Bailey and Wattenberg getting game reps could prove useful down the stretch as the Broncos continue to manage a number of injuries.
"Everyone getting that game experience is going to be good for us," Dulcich said. "It's going to come down to all 11 guys finishing every play."