The Denver Broncos entered training camp with a stacked group at wide receiver. But injuries have bruised the position as Tim Patrick has been lost to a season-ending injury, K.J. Hamler was waived with a health issue and now, Jalen Virgil has suffered a knee injury in the team's most recent preseason outing.
Virgil, who made the 53-man roster last season despite going undrafted, made this 50-yard catch against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night (and possibly scored) but came up limping following the play.
Reports are indicating that Virgil tore his meniscus and surgery is going to be required. That should allow the Broncos to place him on injured reserve as his timetable for return is yet to be determined.
What was once a clouded position heading into camp and preseason games is starting to become fairly clear with injuries making the decisions more cut and dry. Here's how I see the wide receiver position as it relates to the final 53-man roster.
In: Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims Jr, Marquez Callaway, Brandon Johnson
Bubble: Montrell Washington, Kendall Hinton
Out: Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Taylor Grimes, Nick Williams, J.J. Koski, Michael Bandy
IR: Jalen Virgil
So the focus of this discussion becomes those two guys sitting on the roster bubble, Kendall Hinton and Montrell Washington. Will the Broncos keep six wide receivers on their final roster? If they do, the final preseason game this Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams could be crucial for them.
Hinton, who went undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2020, has managed to stick with the Broncos for three seasons and no matter what he does, he will likely always be remembered as the guy who was forced to play quarterback against the New Orleans Saints that season.
But he's gritty and he's been around this long. If he could put together a solid performance against the Rams, he could earn the chance to stick around a little while longer. But that would go against what we have seen thus far from him this summer.
Hinton has not caught a single pass in the preseason this year and has only been targeted twice. His veteran status with the team is about all he has left to hang onto and he's going to have to do something to stand out.
The case of Montrell Washington is probably not near as dire, but he probably wouldn't make this team without all of the injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, the Broncos have only had him for one season and would probably prefer to see what more he can do for the team.
But would he clear waivers if he was cut?
Washington has also not caught a pass in the preseason but he has returned two punts for 29 yards and one kickoff for 28 yards. The team has not used Tremon Smith to return kicks in the preseason and he has not looked great on defense, so that could help Washington's cause.
Both of these wide receivers need to play as if it will be their final game in Denver against the Rams. There is certainly still the idea that George Paton and Sean Payton will scour the waiver wire following roster cuts looking for another wide receiver, but both Hinton and Washington need to, at the very least, make that a more diffic