WR MCKEN­ZIE GETS PENCILED IN AS PUNT RE­TURNER

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

The quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion at Bron­cos train­ing camp was still wag­ing af­ter Satur­day’s scrim­mage, but one new start­ing job seems to have been de­cided.

Coach Vance Joseph said he ex­pects rookie Isa­iah Mcken­zie to be the punt re­turner dur­ing the team’s open­ing game against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers on Sept. 11.

“He’s the punt re­turner; that’s why he was drafted,” Joseph said of Mcken­zie, a fifth-round pick from Ge­or­gia.

Mcken­zie has been at the front of the punt-re­turn ro­ta­tion through­out train­ing camp, and last week he be­gan earn­ing some first-team rep­e­ti­tions at wide re­ceiver, as well.

“He’s a guy who can catch the ball,” Joseph said. “That’s crit­i­cal as a punt re­turner. We’ve all seen guys who can re­ally run fast but can’t catch the foot­ball. He can catch the foot­ball. So I trust him to be our guy Week 1 against the Charg­ers.”

Ward to miss ex­hi­bi­tion. Safety T.J. Ward, who ex­ited Fri­day’s prac­tice af­ter suf­fer­ing a ham­string in­jury, is un­likely to play in the Bron­cos’ open­ing pre­sea­son game at Chicago on Thurs­day, Joseph said.

“It’s a mi­nor ham­string in­jury,” Joseph said, in­di­cat­ing that Ward would prob­a­bly re­turn to ac­tion lead­ing into the team’s joint prac­tices with the San Fran­cisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., which be­gin the week af­ter the game against the Bears.

Of­fen­sive tackle Mene­lik Wat­son missed Satur­day’s scrim­mage with a strained “hip mus­cle or ab mus­cle,” Joseph said. Wat­son is ex­pected to re­turn to prac­tice Tues­day.

Line­backer Todd Davis (shoul­der) and run­ning back Bernard Pierce (ham­string) were also held out of the scrim­mage.

La­ment­ing penal­ties. The Bron­cos com­mit­ted at least four of­fen­sive penal­ties — a per­sonal foul, an of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence, a hold­ing call and a false start — dur­ing their brief scrim­mage Satur­day.

Joseph said he ad­dressed the is­sues im­me­di­ately af­ter prac­tice. The coach wasn’t the only one dis­ap­pointed in the mis­cues.

“That’s some­thing that we don’t have time for re­ally,” cor­ner­back Chris Har­ris said. “We don’t need those penal­ties. We can’t af­ford them on the of­fen­sive side of the ball. We’ve got to play clean and be smart. We don’t want to beat our­selves, so we’re not look­ing for that at all.”

De­fen­sive stand­outs. While Har­ris’ in­ter­cep­tion of Pax­ton Lynch was the top de­fen­sive play of the scrim­mage, there were sev­eral stand­outs on that side of the ball.

De­fen­sive end Adam Got­sis swal­lowed up a run play and then tipped a pass at the line of scrim­mage by Trevor Siemian. Out­side line­backer Kasim Ede­bali, bat­tling for the start­ing job op­po­site Von Miller with Shane Ray in­jured, was cred­ited with a sack for the sec­ond straight prac­tice. — Nick Kos­mider, The Den­ver Post

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