Denver Broncos training camp: Special teams preview

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Kicker Brandon McManus
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Kicker Brandon McManus /
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MEMPHIS, TN – DECEMBER 30: Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie
MEMPHIS, TN – DECEMBER 30: Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie /

Isaiah McKenzie

Age: 22 – Contract: 4 years remaining ($523,961 cap hit)

When looking over the Broncos’ special teams units, perhaps no single player can help make a more dramatic shift this season than return man Isaiah McKenzie.

Back in 2012, the Broncos had an opportunity to bring in Trindon Holliday, who despite his inconsistency in actually catching punts was an elite return specialist.

Holliday was a game-changer, and for a team that sometimes needed a big momentum shift in the game’s third phase, he was perfect.

Still, his fatal flaw was too risky to keep in a position where coaches need to absolutely trust someone. The Broncos have struggled badly to find anyone that is really capable of returning punts on a consistent basis since Holliday, and probably even well before that.

Enter Isaiah McKenzie, who has been one of the most dynamic return specialists in college football the past few seasons. The Broncos emphasized at OTAs that one area they wanted to upgrade was the area of simply catching punts, and that McKenzie is one of the best in this year’s rookie class at doing just that.

Now, there will be times when McKenzie makes mistakes. No one is perfect. But the Broncos feel like they have a true stud here and someone that can be an ace for their special teams right away. McKenzie has explosive speed and quickness, and he knows what to do with the ball in his hands.

Most importantly, he can catch punts. That alone will give the Broncos’ special teams a huge boost.