Look out folks, we just may have finally found our punt returner!! Rookie Isaiah McKenzie was taken in the 2017 NFL Draft with one goal in mind: To take over on special teams as the man to begin taking punts to the house for the Denver Broncos. Announced as the starter following Saturday’s scrimmage practice by Vance Joseph, Isaiah McKenzie was available to the press today and talked a lot about his new role, and how he won’t be sitting on his laurels after being named the starter. Oh, and he doesn’t mind being called small.
Isaiah definitely feels that being named the starting punt returner brings high praise and large responsibility on him. Talking on his head coach and the title, he said “It’s an accomplishment to me, I thank him for that. It’s not over, I still have to work and I still have other jobs to do and things like that.” He won’t be able to sit with this role, and just lose sight on being a starting WR, recognizing this was just the first step in his goals. “That was my first goal, making the team. I told everybody that when I got here. Being drafted in the fifth round is not easy, but I have to come out here every day and do my job as well, just like everybody else.”
Thursday’s preseason game vs the Chicago Bears brings with it the first true test for McKenzie, but he doesn’t seem fazed at all, and is looking forward to: “Just making big plays, making big plays on the offense and showing coaches I can make big plays on special teams, offense and everything like that.” He also recognizes that the job isn’t all on his shoulders, it does indeed take a whole team to make something special happen. “It’s looking at the scheme of the return. Coach Brock does a great job scheming up returns and things like that. Finding the wall and getting to it, then after that, it’s up to you. You get 10 yards and the rest is yours.”
Since McKenzie has joined the team, he’s been seen as the small one on the team, and has already gained a nickname from OLB Von Miller. About being called the small player on the team, he said “It’s an everyday thing. Even ‘E’ and all of them say, ‘You’re tiny.’ Even the short guys that are on the team say, ‘You’re small.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I take heed to it and I’m just like you know what, I’m small, whatever—I can run though.” So, evidently even good-natured ribbing from teammates is giving him added motivation, which is not at all a bad thing. And the nickname that he’s gained from Von? “Crawfish—I guess I’ll see where it goes. He called me Crawfish and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then it is what it is.”
Stay tuned on Thursday evening to see what the “Crawfish” can accomplish, and hopefully he can get the Broncos back into excellence in special teams, as well as an explosive element in Mike McCoy’s new offense.