ENGLEWOOD – It appears there’s going to be a punt-off this week at Broncos headquarters, sources tell 9NEWS.
It will be the relatively unknown Colby Wadman vs. the punting celebrity that is Marquette King.
For various reasons, the Broncos as of Wednesday were leaning toward Wadman making his NFL debut Sunday in the New Jersey Meadowlands against the New York Jets, who boast one of the league’s top punt returners in Andre Roberts.
Wadman, who was signed to the Broncos’ practice squad last week at the behest of special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, has never punted in a preseason game much less an NFL regular-season game.
Then again, vast NFL experience hasn’t done King much good in his first season with the Broncos. A Pro Bowler just two years ago with the Oakland Raiders, King was inconsistent in the Broncos’ first two regular-season games, then punted poorly in the Broncos’ losses to Baltimore and Kansas City.
King is now gimpy with a groin strain, which a source said started to bother him Sunday before the Broncos’ game Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. Following his last punt against the Chiefs, King hobbled off the field. He recently had an MRI and didn’t practice Wednesday, but there was a chance he could return Thursday.
If King doesn’t punt during practice Thursday or Friday, Wadman will be the Broncos’ punter Sunday against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Even if King does return to practice this week, the Broncos may still give Wadman his first NFL game against the Jets.
Wadman, 23, was a four-year punter for the University of California-Davis from 2013-16. He was also the Aggies’ placeholder and he has been working with Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus. Undrafted in 2017, Wadman had a private workout with McMahon when McMahon was then the special teams coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
Although Wadman spent two months this spring with the Oakland Raiders, and a week with the Broncos during their mandatory minicamp, he has never been with a team during training camp.
The Broncos worked him out last Tuesday and came away impressed enough with his talent to sign him to their practice squad. He will remain on the practice squad until the Broncos decide later in the week whether to promote him to not only their 53-man roster but to Sunday’s game-day roster.
The Jets would pose a difficult opponent for an NFL debut as Roberts’ 26.7-yard punt return average is second only to the 27.4-yard average of Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill. Roberts had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Jets' season-opening win at Detroit.
Then again, Roberts, a nine-year pro who has played for Arizona, Washington, Detroit, and Atlanta before landing with the Jets this season, has never caught a punt against the likes of Wadman.