If you're an offensive player, the path to the Denver Broncos' final roster runs through quarterback Russell Wilson, whose pull within the organization extends well beyond the huddle.
If you're Kendall Hinton, you're feeling pretty good about your odds.
“Kendall is doing an amazing job," Wilson said Monday of the third-year wide receiver. "He has a special gift—his gift of getting open, his wiggle and his ability to accelerate and make plays. I remember watching the film, and there was a certain game—it was the Cowboys game. He caught a skinny post route and just took off. His ability to get open, his ability to make plays near the red zone and how he catches it—he’s got that football instinct. It’s the quarterback in him. I’ve watched him play and how he even had to step into the game that one day. That’s kind of crazy to do. People don’t understand how hard this position is, and for him to be able to do that the next day is a challenging thing. He’s a competitor, and I think all the guys are competing their butts off.”
As demonstrated above, Hinton is best known for his last-minute QB spot-start against New Orleans during the COVID-marred 2020 campaign. And rightly so; it was a heroic effort which won the respect of his teammates and landed the former undrafted free agent in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But what many forget or failed to notice was that Hinton progressed as a receiver last season, pulling down 15 of 23 targets for 175 yards and one touchdown. His longest catch came on the very play Wilson diagnosed, a 40-yard gainer amid Denver's Nov. 7 victory at Dallas.
With the support of Wilson and the ability to spell him if needed, Hinton should be considered the early favorite to secure a spot on the 53-man squad, serving behind WRs Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Montrell Washington.
That is, assuming the Broncos carry six wideouts and Hinton continues to hold off competition from Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams, and Travis Fulgham in training camp and the preseason.
“I think they’ve done a really good job," offensive coordinator Justin Outten said Tuesday of the WR room. "We have that virtual playbook that they can lean on. It’s coaches coaching and being really, really detailed in each and every concept itself so when they go home, they’re able to go back and look at those details. They’re able to get the script the night before and knock out those other details with the motions and the alignments. Like I said, this is a challenging offense throughout the entire offense. Those guys, they have a lot on their plate and it’s not just using their athletic ability to get open. Now, it’s your alignment, making it look like a run, and then blowing the top off. Those are the things we really try to hit home because it’s going to help them out in the end.”
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