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Broncos counting on the Penners to ride to rescue

Jeudy returns to practice, as Sutton sidelined with stomach bug. Trying to make heads or tails of third quarter slump.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos Chief Executive Officer Greg Penner and his wife Carrie Walton-Penner wave to fans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the castle wobbles, the rulers’ presence can be reassuring.

Reassuring to some, frightening to others.

Greg Penner and his wife Carrie Walton Penner attended the early part of the Broncos’ indoor practice Friday at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. After a while they were headed out in the direction of their Broncos’ offices that was just a couple practice fields away. The Penners were accompanied on the walk by general manager George Paton.

These are uncertain times for the 3-8 Broncos as the Penners, along with Carrie’s dad Rob, enter their fourth month of ownership. They thought sure their $4.65 billion was going to buy them a winning team, especially after Paton pulled off a trade for quarterback Russell Wilson. Now the Penners – especially Greg, who is the chief executive officer, are under the microscope of Broncos Country, charged with finding solutions.

It’s too late to make meaningful changes this year – if the Broncos surprisingly split their final six games, they would still finish worse than last year’s Fangio/Teddy-led team – but there will be demands for a winning season in 2023. At present, the Penners are trying to acquire as much knowledge and information about the team’s dreadful situation as they can before they, presumably, will have start making some tough decisions.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos owner and chief executive officer Greg Penner, from left, owner Rob Walton and owner Carrie Walton Penner before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Denver, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

“I meet with them quite a bit, actually,’’ Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said Friday. “I see Greg and Carrie around a lot. I text with them a lot and have meetings with them weekly. We just talk about everything.’’

The Penners represent hope. No one yet knows how they will rule but the Broncos fans base is counting on them to be great owners. The performances of others is subject to scrutiny in a 3-8 season that is predicted to get worse as the Broncos are 8.5-point road underdogs for their game Sunday at Baltimore and currently 7.5-point home underdogs the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“They’re very supportive,’’ Hackett said of the Penners. “They have great questions. We talk about pretty much everything. I think that for them being in football for the first time, there is great discussions on all the different things that happen throughout this profession.”

Jeudy a game-time decision

After missing the previous two games and the first two practices this week because of an ankle injury, No. 2 receiver Jerry Jeudy returned to practice Friday. He is listed as questionable to play against the Ravens.

“We got him in some team stuff,’’ Hackett said. “He’s going to be a game-time decision. We want to be sure he’s ready to go.”

The Broncos’ No. 1 receiver, Courtland Sutton, missed practice Friday because of what Hackett called a “stomach bug.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) is helped after injury during the first half of an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Heads, tails or defer

The Broncos are 3-8 even though they are 9-2 on coin flips this season. Only one time did the Broncos take the ball first as like most coaches Hackett prefers to defer to the second half so the team in theory can have the ball last in the first half and to start the second half.

Only problem is the Broncos usually deferring to punt as their offense has scored just one touchdown and one field goal in the third quarter through 11 games.

Hackett was asked if he considered changing his decision and taking the ball on winning coin tosses.

“That’s a great question,’’ Hackett said with a I-can’t-tell-my-secret smile. “We will evaluate everything.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos cornerback K'Waun Williams (21) is injured during the first half of an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

K’Waun tough

Broncos nickel corner K’Waun Williams returned to practice this week no less than 16 days after he had arthroscopic knee surgery. There wasn’t any structural damage to repair as the procedure trimmed out “loose bodies” that were putting pressure on the joint. Still, it’s impressive Williams returned to practice even if he doesn’t play in a game (he’s listed as questionable) until next Sunday against the Chiefs.

“Mindset,’’ he said with a smile.



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