Eddie Royal gave his hip the royal treatment, and now he’s back on the field practicing with teammates in player-only led workouts. Royal made his first appearance since having hip surgery three and a half months ago on Monday. The timetable for Royal’s return was not etched in stone, but team’s spokesman Patrick Smyth said in February that the earliest the wideout would return would be late-May. That’s great news for the young wide receiver’s career and for the team that so desperately needs veterans on the roster.
In his third season, Royal played in all 16 games despite a nagging groin injury. He had 59 receptions for 627 yards (39.2 yards per game) and reeled in 3 touchdowns. His kick return duties took a backseat compared to his previous two seasons, but he still handled quite a bit of the punt return duties.
Royal’s most explosive year in the league was undoubtedly his rookie season when he had 91 catches for 980 yards (65.3 yards per game) and 5 touchdowns. Change always brings disruption and with a new head coach, quarterback, and offensive system, many feel that Royal has been under-utilized since his rookie year.
In 2009, Royal played in one of the Broncos’ outside receiver positions most of the time. He moved to slot receiver in 2010, but Josh McDaniels used a lot of two-tight end formations which limited Royal’s involvement. He still had 22 more catches than he did in 2009.
So what is in store for Fast Eddie this year? Brandon Lloyd is the team’s go-to guy, and Jabar Gaffney brings the leadership and stability that only veteran hands bestow. Demaryius Thomas tore his Achilles’ tendon in February and is expected to be out 6-8 months. Eric Decker has shown promise during his limited playing time in the league.
Is Eddie Royal due for another breakout year? Of course, that will depend on how John Fox wants to use Royal, and how he wants to execute the Broncos passing game. Will the Josh McD system of short to intermediate passing stick with the addition of John Fox’s consistent run game, or will Fox allow Orton/Tebow to consistently gun the long balls?
Whichever the case, Royal will be ready to rule and take to the field with a healthy body.
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