Aug 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Isaiah Burse (19) practices kickoff returns prior to the start of a scrimmage at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
There aren’t really any holes on the Broncos roster this season.
Well, that would’ve been true if not for Jordan Norwood’s season-ending ACL tear. The Broncos were, and apparently still are, in need of a competent return man.
The journeyman wide receiver and returner had bounced around from team to team before landing in Denver. Through two games of solid preseason play, Norwood looked to fit the bill and more, almost equally contributing from his natural position of wide receiver.
He snagged a 34-yard touchdown Week One that ended up being the game-winner over the Seahawks. Norwood even got some time with the first-team offense when the Broncos played the 49ers, hauling in a three-yard catch from Manning
It looked as if the Broncos had found their starting kick/punt returner as well as their sixth receiver to complete their already stacked team. The competition for either position could not be any more wide open now that Norwood is done for the year.
The Broncos have many options they could turn to when it comes to the sixth receiver, perhaps not carrying one at all being the best choice of action. Denver has a vast array of talent from position to position. The problem with carrying a receiver who will barely see any playing time is that you risk losing potential impact players as rosters are continuously trimmed down.
Their return game is the concern here.
Punt returning, in particular, is a hole that needs to be filled sooner rather than later. Experience in said category is not lost on the Broncos, though. Receivers Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders have a fine history of fielding punts but all eyes will on be rookie wideout Isaiah Burse to fill the void.
Burse was a superb punt returner and slot receiver last year at Fresno State University. He took two punts to the house and had a career year as a receiver to boot, catching 99 passes for 1,026 yards.
Burse has showed flashes while in Denver but has not been able to set himself apart from the pack, returning punts in each of the Broncos’ preseason games to no avail.
If he’s unable to grow into the return man the Broncos had hoped they were getting from Fresno State, expect them to head in the direction of a veteran player like Welker.