Wad­man de­vel­op­ing into crit­i­cal spe­cial teams player

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle Fredrick­son

A col­lec­tion of Bron­cos at­tended the Den­ver Res­cue Mis­sion’s 19th an­nual hol­i­day din­ner party Mon­day night, with sev­eral play­ers serv­ing hot meals, hand­ing out gifts and dec­o­rat­ing cook­ies with chil­dren of fam­i­lies in the non-profit’s tran­si­tional hous­ing pro­gram.

One player in spe­cific, No. 3 with the red beard and Santa hat, doesn’t of­ten get rec­og­nized as a foot­ball player out in pub­lic. On this night, though, one thank­ful res­cue mis­sion res­i­dent ap­proached him with: “Hey, you’re the punter.”

Colby Wad­man chuck­led. “I’m OK with that,” he said. “Be­ing a punter, I do my job and not re­ally worry about who is get­ting the glory.”

But a string of ex­cep­tional on­field per­for­mances is draw­ing more at­ten­tion.

The Bron­cos’ mis­fire of sign­ing for­mer Raiders’ punter Mar­quette King looks less painful by the week with Wad­man — un­drafted from UC Davis in 2017, signed to the Bron­cos’ prac­tice squad in Septem­ber and ac­ti­vated since Week 5 at the Jets — quickly prov­ing his value.

Wad­man, in the midst of gust­ing winds at Cincin­nati last week, dropped four of six punts in­side the Ben­gals’ 20-yard line with a 42.7-yard net av­er­age. Af­ter­ward, he was pre­sented a game ball.

“That was the first time I’ve ev­er­got­te­nagame­ball,”he­said. “I’d never got­ten one all through col­lege or high school. So it was a pretty cool ex­pe­ri­ence, hon­estly, some­thing I def­i­nitely was pretty proud of and happy about.”

Wad­man’s road to Den­ver be­gan in 2017 when he hosted a work­out for then Colts’ spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Tom McMa­hon, who later ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend In­di­anapo­lis’ mini­camp. Wad­man got cut, but he left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion on McMa­hon, who came away con­vinced that Wad­man would “be in

the Na­tional Foot­ball League for a lot of years.”

Wad­man re­ceived an­other chance to be taught by McMa­hon, who joined the Bron­cos’ coach­ing staff this year.

“The bot­tom line is, what I look for is the strong­est leg I can find,” McMa­hon said.

One of Wad­man’s more im­pres­sive boots came vs. the Steel­ers. He launched a punt 50 yards in the air and bounced it in­side the Pitts­burgh 5-yard line. Wide re­ceiver Tim Pa­trick downed it at the 3.

“He put the foot­ball ex­actly where it’s sup­posed to be,” Pa­trick said. “We def­i­nitely give him love all the time be­cause if he’s do­ing his job, it makes our job a whole lot eas­ier, and he def­i­nitely knows how much we ap­pre­ci­ate what he does.”

Added safety Will Parks: “It gives us con­fi­dence that if he kicks it right there, they’re not scor­ing. We know that.”

Wad­man is thank­ful to be val­ued on a team still in the play­off chase en­ter­ing Sun­day’s game at the 49ers. He likes to give back, too, which is why he vol­un­teered to help hun­gry fam­i­lies this week. And, week by week he’s build­ing a good case to se­cure a long-term job with the Bron­cos.

“As each game goes on I feel more com­fort­able and con­fi­dent,” Wad­man said. “To go out there, re­lax and know I’ve done this so many times in my life. I’m just kick­ing a ball out here hav­ing fun. It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence so far.”

Es­pe­cially when pin­ning the op­po­nent deep in its own ter­ri­tory.

“Mak­ing a team go 97 or 98 yards is a huge play. I go back, cel­e­brate with my team­mates, and with who­ever is the one mak­ing that play, and en­joy that mo­ment,”he­said.

Eric Lutzens, The Den­ver Post

Den­ver’s Colby Wad­man punts the ball dur­ing the fourth quar­ter vs. the Steel­ers on Novem­ber 25 at Bron­cos Sta­dium at Mile High.

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