Need a reason to watch Saturday? KJ Hamler is expected to play
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If all goes according to plan, you’ll see at least one Broncos first-teamer in Saturday’s 2022 preseason finale: wide receiver KJ Hamler.
Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said he expects Hamler to play “a couple of snaps” Saturday.
“I think he’s going to get a couple of snaps,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said after practice Thursday. “We’re going to try to get him in there.
“It’s been a while since he’s played.”
Eleven months and one day — to be exact — by the time the Broncos kick off with the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.
Hamler tore his ACL and dislocated his hip in Week 3 last season against the New York Jets. He went up for a Teddy Bridgewater pass and fell awkwardly to the ground. He returned to practice earlier this month, and saw his first team-period work this week.
As the week progressed, Hamler continued to show progress. He caught a touchdown pass in red-zone work. He went up for a pass Tuesday and came down with no discomfort. And on Wednesday, Hamler made a pair of two-minute drill catches — including a toe-tapper near the sideline.
“Whatever Coach [Hackett] wants me to do, I’ll do it,” Hamler said Wednesday. “I’m going to be excited if I play a little bit. I don’t know how long he wants me to play — or if he even wants me to play — but if he does, it’s fine.”
Not only is Hamler expected to play, but offensive coordinator Justin Outten said he expects Brett Rypien to throw in his direction, too.
“No doubt,” Outten said. “You want to get him started; you want to get his confidence back. He has been in a controlled setting this whole time, and he’s eager. He’s ready.”
- Denver waived ILB Barrington Wade with the injured designation after he suffered an elbow injury Wednesday. The Broncos signed rookie Jeremiah Gemmel to take his spot. The 49ers waived Gemmel, a North Carolina product, on Tuesday. Gemmel should play extensively on special teams Saturday.
- Offensive tackle Billy Turner practiced Thursday, but Outten acknowledged that Turner had “some rust” as he returned. “He’s been knocking it off in [individual-period work],” Outten said. “He got a couple of group period plays; he’s just getting in his rhythm.”
- Edge rusher Randy Gregory practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. He took part in practices Monday and Tuesday, seeing his first team-period repetitions as a Bronco. “You look at how we did the training camp: two [days] on, one off,” Hackett said. “He hasn’t played a lot of football in a long time. He hasn’t had OTAs … We just want to keep working him in in the right way.”
- Punter Sam Martin returned to practice Thursday. He missed the previous three days with an ankle injury suffered in pre-game warmups in Buffalo.
- If Martin is healthy, special-teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes said that he expects to have Martin and Corliss Waitman alternate punts, as they did in the preseason opener against Dallas.
- Offensive lineman Netane Muti, inside linebacker Jonas Griffith and tight end Greg Dulcich continued their workouts off to the side.
- Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (hit to the throat) and cornerback Michael Ojemudia (dislocated elbow) did not practice.