ENGLEWOOD, Colo.** – Safety Omar Bolden made an impact last season on kick returns after taking on the role in the middle of the season.
But despite his proficient job handling the duty last season, Bolden isn't going to let that dictate his performance heading into camp. He says the position is his to lose.
"I think that's how every man should attack his job. Especially being in the position I'm in," Bolden said.
Last season, Bolden tallied 13 kickoff returns for 429 yards (33.0 avg.), including a career-long 77-yard return at Cincinnati, the longest by a Bronco since 2013. He was handed over the kickoff return job against Miami and tallied his two longest runs in the final two games of the regular season.
Bolden saw action twice as the returner in 2013. The year before he made one more attempt than he did in 2014, but tallied 159 less yards, showing his growth over the past three seasons.
"I did a lot of work in the offseason," Bolden said, "catching a lot of balls and running with the parachute on my back, just to create that resistance. Just so I can build that top-end speed so I don't ever get caught from behind ever again."
Last May during offseason training activities, Bolden said he was willing to also take on punt return duties. But the last time he handled punts was during a preseason game at Seattle in 2012.
"I'm just trying to help this team in any way possible," Bolden said last May. "If time calls for it for me to return some punts, I want to be ready. So, I'm just trying to practice and get better at doing that as well."
Four days into training camp, the Broncos have only worked on punt returns, and Bolden has been right in the fold getting some catches in.
Day 4 of training camp at UCHealth Training Center where several of the Broncos veteran players were given a day off by Head Coach Gary Kubiak. (All photos by Eric Lars Bakke)
This past offseason, the Broncos welcomed new Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis to the staff and he has specific expectations for the returners this season.
"… We're going to try to do certain things, conceptually, that help the guys, whatever they can do best," DeCamillis said. "If we've got a guy that's a speed guy, we need to get him outside more—we're going to do that. If we've got a guy that's more of a middle of the field, take one cut and go, we're going to do that too. We've got to find what our guys do best. And we'll do that as we go forward, but I think in this stadium I know you have to be a really good punt return team. I know that… We've got to make the most of those opportunities."
Through months of offseason training and first days of training camp, Bolden is confident in his and DeCamillis' rapport.
"I think we've got a good relationship so far," Bolden said. "He understands the way I play. I understand his coaching style. So it meshes very well."