Broncos STC Says Rookie PR/KR Montrell Washington Will be 'Electric' – Sports Illustrated

During the offseason and NFL draft process, the Denver Broncos were determined to turn around their poor special teams. New special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes has reenergized the unit considerably, but the most integral piece of the puzzle has been finding an explosive returner.
That seems to have come in the form of fifth-round draft pick Montrell Washington.
Washington's growing influence on how Stukes' special teams was emphasized on Thursday when the assistant coach implored the football gods to keep his rookie returner fit and available.
“We want Montrell to stay healthy. We believe in Montrell. He has shown what he can do this preseason,” Stukes said. “He’ll be electric once we start sustaining the blocks for a second longer… we prefer for him to stay healthy.”
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For as good as Washington might prove to be in the return game, it’s clear that providing him a cavalcade of downfield blockers is the secret sauce. It's already been noted that Washington takes a few heavy licks when he gets the ball in his hands, and the last thing the Broncos need is damaging turnovers in the third phase.
Stukes was crystal clear when stating his directives on the art of returning kicks, and he insisted it isn't simply about switching on the afterburners before heading off into the sunset. Getting a real feel for how the blocking and running lanes are setting up in front of you is a particular skill that a talented returner needs to display every time he takes to the field.
“We’ve all seen how fast that hole closes," Stukes said. "If you go running full speed through the hole, there’s going to be a big collision. You have to be smart as a returner. You have to feel where guys are in relationship to the blocks and run off the backside of the blocks and then execute. Him hesitating a little bit to set the return up is awesome. That’s what we would prefer him to do.”
Closing the gap in the super competitive AFC West will require forensic levels of attention to detail in all three phases of the game. Many close games might boil down to extra yards won the hard way, which could entail a well-executed block or making the right call on what hole to hit.
So, before Stukes can start dreaming about Devin Hester-esque game-changing trips to the end zone, it’s all about getting the basics down and somehow staying healthy moving forward. 
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Keith Cummings is in his fourth year covering the Denver Broncos for Mile High Huddle.


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