K.J. Hamler

West Rumors: Broncos, Bell, Rams

Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins will not travel with the team to New England for the rescheduled Broncos-Patriots game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the team announced Saturday. Modkins, 49, is in his third season as Denver’s running backs coach. He is not experiencing symptoms from the virus, according to the team, which has performed the customary contact tracing after this positive test. The former Bills and 49ers offensive coordinator is a holdover from the Vance Joseph regime and has been retained despite the Broncos changing OCs the past two offseasons. Modkins has been an NFL assistant since the 2008 season. Modkins’ son, Jett, is a Broncos intern and lives with his father. Jett Modkins will not make the trip either, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. The Broncos will also be without Melvin Gordon from their backfield mix Sunday.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Le’Veon Bell‘s Chiefs deal will come with a $1MM base salary, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Dolphins were believed to be offering more money and potentially a multiyear deal, but another report indicated Miami did not dangle two years in its Bell proposal. Bell will have around $1MM more available to him through incentives. One of those incentives will be based around Bell’s workload. Bell’s Chiefs contract, to some degree, lessen the Jets’ burden. They owed the former All-Pro back approximately $6MM after releasing him after five games.
  • Another team’s running backs coach will be out of action as well. Rams RBs coach Thomas Brown blew out his Achilles’ tendon during practice Thursday, Sean McVay confirmed. In his first season as an NFL assistant, Brown joined the Rams’ staff this offseason. The 34-year-old position coach will undergo surgery next week.
  • Drew Lock is set to return as the Broncos‘ quarterback Sunday. He will have far from his optimal group of skill-position players. Phillip Lindsay will play; so will Jerry Jeudy. However, Denver will be down Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler. Fant suffered an ankle injury in Denver’s win over the Jets more than two weeks ago; Hamler reinjured the hamstring he pulled during training camp. Lock was able to target Courtland Sutton when he last played (Week 2), but Denver’s No. 1 wide receiver is out for the season with an ACL tear. Lock will have a difficult task against the Patriots, who will have Stephon Gilmore back after his stay on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

WR Notes: Godwin, Lions, Broncos, Bateman

A bevy of wide receiver news has surfaced Friday, with several key weapons either out or likely to be shelved for Week 2. Here is the latest from the wideout ranks:

  • The Buccaneers have given Chris Godwin a doubtful designation. The contract-year wide receiver displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday, after absorbing a late-game hit in last week’s loss to the Saints, and remains in Tampa Bay’s protocol. Godwin has missed just two career games.
  • For a second straight week, the Lions will be without Kenny Golladay. Joining Godwin as a contract-year standout on the verge of a big payday, Golladay will miss another game because of a hamstring malady.
  • The Broncos will have their first- and second-round picks together in game action this week, with K.J. Hamler set to join Jerry Jeudy. Vic Fangio said Hamler will play. The second-rounder sustained a hamstring injury during training camp. Denver may have to wait for any Jeudy-Hamler-Courtland Sutton formations, however, with the Broncos’ No. 1 target remaining questionable with a sprained AC joint.
  • During Week 1, DeVante Parker aggravated a hamstring issue he initially encountered during training camp. The Dolphins‘ No. 1 target is questionable to play Sunday.
  • The Texans worked out Devin Smith this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The Cowboys cut Smith, a former Jets second-round pick, as they trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now 28, Smith has just 15 career receptions since being a coveted prospect in 2015.
  • An interesting situation has emerged at the University of Minnesota, one of several Big Ten teams who saw an impact talent opt out and declare for the 2021 draft. First-round wide receiver prospect Rashod Bateman opted out this summer, but the high-end target is angling to return now. Bateman is back on campus but has signed with an agent, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Due to the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created — particularly in the Big Ten, which announced an October restart this week — the Golden Gophers are attempting to secure a waiver from the NCAA to allow Bateman to play.

Broncos Sign Round 2 WR K.J. Hamler, Finalize Draft Class Deals

The Broncos signed all 10 of their 2020 draft picks this week. They concluded the stretch of deals by agreeing to terms with second-round wide receiver K.J. Hamler on his four-year contract Friday, Mike Klis of 9News notes.

Denver became the first team to select wide receivers in both the first and second rounds since the Cardinals chose Bryant Johnson and Anquan Boldin in 2003. The Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy at No. 15 overall and took Hamler 46th, equipping Drew Lock with an intriguing set of weapons alongside Courtland Sutton and 2019 first-round tight end Noah Fant.

A hamstring injury prevented Hamler from participating at the Combine, but the Penn State product was viewed as one of the draft’s fastest players. A 5-foot-9 wideout who declared for the draft after his sophomore college season, Hamler is expected to see action in the slot for the Broncos. He showed high-level playmaking ability with the Nittany Lions, totaling 98 receptions for 1,658 yards and 13 touchdowns as an underclassman. He averaged 18 yards per catch as a freshman.

Hamler will join former Penn State teammate DaeSean Hamilton in the Broncos’ receiver group but will be expected to surpass him and man the slot in Denver’s three-wideout sets.

Here is the Broncos’ full 2020 draft class:

1-15: Jerry Jeudy, WR (Alabama): Signed
2-46: K.J. Hamler, WR (Penn State): Signed
3-77: Michael Ojemudia, CB (Iowa): Signed
3-83: Lloyd Cushenberry, C (LSU): Signed
3-95: McTelvin Agim, DL (Arkansas): Signed
4-118: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE (Missouri): Signed
5-178: Justin Strnad, LB (Wake Forest): Signed
6-181: Netane Muti, G (Fresno State): Signed
7-252: Tyrie Cleveland, WR (Florida): Signed
7-254: Derrek Tuszka, LB (North Dakota State): Signed