Wide receiver Kendall Hinton spent the week leading up to the Broncos' game against the Titans preparing for one position, but that all changed after the offense's first play of the game.
At the start of Denver's first drive, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy suffered an ankle injury and had to exit the game. Hinton was immediately called upon to step into Jeudy's role without warning, but the former undrafted free agent was able to adjust quickly — just two plays after Jeudy left the game, Hinton hauled in a 35-yard reception on third-and-10 to move the chains for the Broncos. He finished the game with four catches for 62 yards, setting a new career high in receiving yards.
"[Hinton] had not played that position of Jerry's that week because he was getting ready for a different position," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said Monday. "For him to miss practice due to sickness and then go out there and play at that position the whole game — he didn't have any mental errors. He went out there and made some plays. He toughed it out, and he did a great job."
Stepping into different roles when necessary has been a theme throughout the third-year receiver's young career; not only has he played multiple receiving roles, but Hinton's first NFL appearance in 2020 involved him stepping in to play quarterback.
"Being able to have their trust for different positions and knowing what you're doing [is important]," Hinton said Wednesday. "I take a lot of pride in knowing every position and studying. That allows me [to get] opportunities."
Receiving praise for his performance from Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson after the game was a boost of confidence for Hinton, who consistently works to earn an opportunity each week.
"It means a lot," Hinton said. "That's a big thing for me, is getting the trust of my coaches, my teammates, knowing that when I'm on the field, they don't have anything to worry about. So that praise means a lot; I appreciate Coach and 'Three' [Wilson] saying that, and I just want to continue to show what I can do."
With no guarantee that Jeudy will be able to suit up in Week 11, Hinton could see an even larger role in the Broncos' upcoming matchup with the Raiders.
"I think [we approach it] like any other week," Hinton said. "You prepare [to be] a starter every week; you never know the situations. Mentally, you've got to be prepared as if you're going to play, and this week it comes into fruition. Guys are going to continue to prepare like we have, and now we get to go show what we can do."
Below the Fold
The Broncos dropped their first matchup with the Raiders in Week 4, but the offense had one of its best performances of the season. There were plenty of positive takeaways from that game, and Hackett noted that the unit will look to build on what they accomplished against Las Vegas the first time around as they aim to split the series.
"It was a close game, and there was a lot of good up-tempo stuff," Hackett said. "That was kind of the first time that we amped that up a little bit, and you saw some good things happen there in the up tempo. We were behind the sticks a lot. It's kind of been a broken record from me saying that. That kind of hurt us a little bit, but there were some good signs. We had a couple good shots down the field, and we need to continue those."