Deep in the Rocky Mountains, there are numerous caves. One might think that Eddie Royal was hiding in one right next to a Yeti for the past few years.
Royal had not made as big an impact in a game since his rookie year in 2008. Without Royal, the Broncos game against the Raiders could have been tied at the end of regulation rather than the Broncos walking out of Oakland with a 14-point win. He contributed two touchdowns in the second half, a time when the momentum was shifting in the Broncos’ direction. Royal made sure that shift stuck with his big plays.
The first was a 26-yard touchdown reception from Tim Tebow to put the Broncos within three at the beginning of the third quarter.
The second was an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown with six minutes left in the game. Royal came in as a substitute return guy. He’s one-for-one this season as far as punt returns go. Expect Fox and Co. to throw him back there more.
Prior to Sunday, Royal had played in just 4 games and recorded 12 receptions for 106 yards. It’s a far cry from the pace that he set during his rookie year when he had 91 receptions and averaged 65.3 receiving yards per game.
It’s no wonder there were rumors swirling that Royal was being placed on the trade block at the same time that Brandon Lloyd was (Lloyd had 5 catches for 80 yards in his debut with the Rams). It turns out that Lloyd’s departure may benefit a guy like Royal who will now have more opportunities as a slot receiver.
John Fox said that the coaches had a production meeting this week and there was talk about Royal’s rookie year. Fox knew that Royal was capable of having the kind of game that he had against the Raiders.
“He had some injuries early on,” Fox said. “Eddie was able to step in as a receiver and as a punt returner and be a big part of the win.”
At one time Royal was sitting high on the Broncos’ wide receiver throne. His production dropped in Josh McDaniels’ system and injuries have thrown him off, however.
Now that Royal is healthy and under a new coaching regime, perhaps his Royal (Mile) High-ness will rule the slot again.
This is a Kingdom that would welcome it.