Taylor Russolino expected to be kicker for Broncos vs. Bills

Taylor Russolino making NFL debut on Saturday? (Photo by Shawn Hubbard/XFL via Getty Images)
Taylor Russolino making NFL debut on Saturday? (Photo by Shawn Hubbard/XFL via Getty Images) /

Taylor Russolino could be making his NFL debut in place of Brandon McManus.

After the quarterback debacle that happened against the New Orleans Saints, the Denver Broncos knew they couldn’t suffer a similar predicament the rest of the season, so they applied what they learned ahead of that Saints game to special teams by signing former XFL kicker Taylor Russolino.

Russolino signed to the practice squad and certainly wasn’t in Denver to challenge Brandon McManus, who signed a contract extension earlier this year with the team. Russolino was brought in in the event that McManus would miss any amount of time on the COVID/reserve list, and it turns out that preemptively preparing for that could pay huge dividends against the Buffalo Bills.

Vic Fangio told the Denver media on Thursday that if the game were on Sunday, he thought McManus would be able to clear protocols. Because their game against the Bills is on Saturday, he thinks it’s not likely we’ll see no. 8 out there kicking like he has every week since 2014.

McManus is one of the best kickers in the NFL, so his absence could loom large. Thankfully for the Broncos, Russolino appears to be somewhat of a nice find.

In the XFL, he played for the St. Louis Battlehawks and made 9-of-10 kicks including a 58-yard bomb.


There is a pretty fun connection that ultimately helped Russolino land in Denver. Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon worked with former NFL punter and current TV personality Pat McAfee when he was with the Indianapolis Colts. McAfee called XFL games for ESPN and really loved what he saw from Russolino.

With the Denver Broncos, he’s going to be tasked with quite a bit against the Buffalo Bills if Brandon McManus needs a replacement. Although that hasn’t been finalized, the Broncos are planning as though McManus will be unavailable.

Russolino’s experience as both a punter and placekicker makes him an intriguing and potentially very valuable weapon to stash around. There is no one in the NFL who handles a team’s kicking and punting duties.

The Broncos still have Sam Martin punting, but Russoloino could be in charge of kickoffs, PATs, and field goals.

How this all came about is fascinating but it has worked out well for the Broncos, who would not have been able to sign a free agent kicker and have them through COVID protocols by Saturday if they had to do it on Monday or Tuesday.

Russolino was a “quarantine” kicker last week, essentially, working with special teams coordinator Tom McMahon after practice.

He’s now gone from the CFL to the XFL to a very big spot for the Denver Broncos in an NFL game. We’ll see how he does if indeed this is his first real NFL shot.