Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans defensive back Eddie Pleasant (35) tackles Denver Broncos wide receiver Isaiah Burse (19) after a punt in the first quarter of a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
When a punt is hanging in the air for five seconds or so, it’s fair for Broncos fans to hold their breath and wonder if, first and foremost, the ball is going to be caught. There hasn’t exactly been consistency in returning punts in Denver over the last year or so, and since Trindon Holliday had a huge year back in 2012, it’s been a position more of liability than anything else.
That’s why it was a bit of a concern for the Broncos to keep an undrafted rookie free agent in Isaiah Burse on the roster specifically to carry out this duty. Burse had plenty of success with returns in college, but showed some inconsistency in camp and the preseason that had people wondering if the Broncos would have to find a more solid option.
So far this season, Burse has fumbled only one punt, on a play in which he was absolutely rocked. Otherwise, he’s been sure-handed and seems to be growing much more comfortable in his role with the Broncos. You could tell early on that he perceived his job as one that he should not take much risk, make sure he catches the ball, and just don’t screw anything up.
Against the Cardinals, we saw some of the shiftiness that made Burse a star at Fresno State, and he even broke off a couple of returns in that game that got his confidence high.
It’s good to see a young player like Burse getting confidence as the season progresses. The Broncos will need him to continue to make good decisions moving forward, but it also wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he started making some plays happen with his ability on punt returns. Unlike Trindon Holliday, Burse is not a world-class sprinter. He ran in the 4.6 range this past offseason, but where he excels is in short area quickness. Burse can make people miss and is really shifty with the ball in his hands.
We’ll see if Burse can do some damage against the Jets this weekend.