Denver Broncos: Matter of time before Diontae Spencer takes one back
The Denver Broncos have themselves an explosive returner. It’s just a matter of time before Diontae Spencer takes a kick or punt to the house.
The Denver Broncos averaged a league-worst 4.4 yards per punt return in 2018.
That mark was one of the worst in the NFL over the past decade, and it was clear that the team needed to do something about the punt return situation this offseason.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as leaving it to the last minute, and the Broncos actually set their 53-man roster before they actually acquired a punt returner.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cut former CFL star Diontae Spencer, who returned a ton of kicks up in Canada where he spent four years of his professional career.
After dominating that level for a few years, the Steelers brought him in for a look over the course of the offseason, and Spencer played well, putting together one explosive play after another when he got opportunities with the ball in preseason play.
It wasn’t good enough to crack Pittsburgh’s loaded receiver room, but the Broncos were desperate for a solution in the return game and Spencer has provided the necessary spark.
In three games, he is averaging a solid 7.6 yards per punt return and took a kickoff back for 60 yards in the first quarter against the Packers.
On the 60-yard return, Spencer was moving.
Twitter had some fun with the fact that, at first glance, it looks like Spencer said, “GOD PEED” but the lightning bolt is meant to be an “S” as well as a symbol of how lightning quick he was moving.
At this point, Spencer’s opportunities have been relatively limited. He’s been able to return just six kicks total — five punts, one kickoff — and has 98 total yards on those returns, including the 60-yard kickoff return and a 17-yard punt return.
The explosiveness is obvious, however, and it’s only a matter of time before Spencer takes one back. You can feel it percolating when he gets the ball in his hands.
It’s been a long time since the Broncos have had a returner who is as good at actually catching punts as he is at making plays after the punt is caught, and the play he made on the kick return came as he was drifting back to catch the ball in the first place.
He’s been aggressive when given chances, and it feels like he’s getting really close to making a game-changing play in the return game.