Isaiah McKenzie named Broncos punt returner for 2017 season

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21: Isaiah McKenzie
ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21: Isaiah McKenzie /

The Denver Broncos wasted no time naming their punt returner for the 2017 season. That job will belong to rookie Isaiah McKenzie…

If you thought there would be any drama with the Denver Broncos’ punt return position, think no more.

The drama is over, and Isaiah McKenzie will be the team’s punt returner, according to head coach Vance Joseph.

"“Yes. He won the position. Want to write that?”– Vance Joseph (laughing) at Broncos camp (quotes via Broncos PR)"

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Why did McKenzie earn the job already?

Well, the Broncos drafted him with this position in mind, but he had to come out at OTAs and training camp and earn it. The way he earned this job was by gaining the trust of his coaching staff.

We talked at length this offseason about needing an upgrade at the punt return position, and the main area that needed upgrading was the mere act of catching the ball.

The Broncos have to be among the league’s worst teams when it comes to dropping punts over the past three or four seasons, perhaps even more if you go all the way back to Trindon Holliday’s time with the team.

That was one area where McKenzie proved to this staff he would be strong.

"“That’s what he’s been doing since he got here. He’s a guy that can catch the ball. That’s critical as a punt returner. We’ve all seen guys that are really, really fast, but can’t catch the football. He can catch the football. I trust him to be our guy Week 1 against the Chargers. He’s the punt returner. That’s why he was drafted. He’s the first guy out.”“He is so mature for a rookie. He is head strong. Nothing bothers him. He’s had some bad days and you can’t tell. He’s even as I’ve ever seen a rookie.”– Vance Joseph"

That type of maturity is critical for the Broncos’ rookie. As many times as the Denver defense is capable of forcing teams into punting the ball, you can bet the role McKenzie will play is an important one.

This is a player who could easily touch the ball 10 times a game on punt returns alone. That player has to be someone the coaching staff can trust to go out and get the job done, and that’s what McKenzie brings to the table.

He will put on his first show of electrifying speed and quickness on Thursday night, when the Broncos take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.