After the position was seen as a strength entering the season, the Broncos’ situation at wide receiver is being tested early in the campaign. KJ Hamler will miss Denver’s Week 2 game against the Texans, reports NFL Network’s James Palmer (Twitter link).
The 23-year-old will sit out as he continues to deal with lingering pain stemming from the knee and hip surgeries he underwent last year. As Palmer notes, “it took a lot” just for Hamler to be available for the Broncos’ regular season opener in Seattle. He played 40 snaps in that contest, his first action since Week 3 of the 2021 campaign.
“Part of the maintenance,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said, via 9News’ Mike Klis, when asked about Hamler missing the entire week of practice. “We want to make sure we get him to [play] as many games as we possibly can.”
A second-rounder in 2020, Hamler has been limited to just 17 games so far in his NFL career. His receptions (35) and yardage (455) totals fall short of what he and the team would have expected given his college production, though his yards-per-catch average of 13.0 demonstrates the vertical speed he was drafted to provide. Expectations are high in 2022, just as they are for the rest of Denver’s skill-position corps, given the presence of Russell Wilson at quarterback.
With Hamler’s availability set to fluctuate from one game to the next, the loss of fellow wideout Tim Patrick to an ACL tear leaves Denver much thinner at the position than they were entering training camp. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will likely see an increase in targets, but Tyrie Cleveland along with rookies Montrell Washington and Jerry Virgil are among the options to step into a starting slot role. The inexperienced trio will likely be in and out of the rotation as the team continues managing Hamler’s situation.
“It’s such a unique deal what happened to him,” Hackett added. “He’s been doing some great things, been getting some great reps, did good last game. We just want to be sure we got him for the whole season.”