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Broncos special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes tells it like it is

The Broncos special teams coordinator is refreshingly honest in his weekly news conference.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos special teams coach Dwayne Stukes takes part in drills during an NFL football training camp session at the team's headquarters Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — On behalf of the local media, here’s to Dwayne Stukes getting a 10-year contract extension.

Thanks to his refreshing honesty, the Denver Broncos’ special teams boss is gold on coordinator press conference day.

With the weather a little too inclement for the media, but not for Broncos’ players and coaches to practice, Stukes addressed the media Thursday in the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse press room.

He was first asked about the performance that punter Corliss Waitman delivered Sunday at Tennessee. Waitman punted nine times for a respectable 45.7-yard gross average, but not one punt was downed inside the 20 and his balls were traveling lower than usual, which helped allow Titans returner C.J. Board to have 51 return yards.

“That was probably one of his worst performances of the year,’’ Stukes said of Waitman. “And I hate to keep using this as a factor because I don’t like to use excuses, but the wind obviously was a factor out there. I know it didn’t show for those guys [Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse, who was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week], but they’re used to playing in that stadium.

“The wind hung his [Waitman’s] ball up, and we had some low hang times," Stukes said. "Me and Corliss have talked. We have a plan, whether he wants to flip those balls, whether he wants to liner those balls, we have to get further distance down the field. We have to have distance, hanging and location. He knows that in order for us to cover those punts.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos wide receiver Montrell Washington (12) runs in for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Then there was rookie returner Montrell Washington, who stood around the 18-yard line and let the first Stonehouse punt hit at the 12- or 13-yard line – fair catch territory – and in turn the ball was downed at the 4.

Previously, there were a couple punts where Washington caught a punt too deep and in traffic, and now he’s compensated by not catching balls he should.

“I think he’s overthinking things, to be completely honest,’’ Stukes said. “We talked about the inside the 20 punts, and he knows he can’t catch the ball on the 5 yard line, 4 yard line. I think that played a factor in some of his decisions on Sunday. Some of those balls he could have caught. Especially the ball that hit at the 13 yard line. Again me and Montrell had a conversation. We’re watching film together. We’re trying to grow and get better together.

“He’s a young guy. He doesn’t have a lot of experience. Again, that’s not an excuse. He has to do his job. And that’s my job to get him right.”

Stukes was asked whether he has considered putting a more experience player back to return punts.

“Do you have a suggestion on who we should use?’’ Stukes asked the media inquisitor. “Just so I know.”

Pat Surtain. The best player on the team and arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.

“Patrick Surtain,’’ Stukes said, repeating the answer before lowering the hammer. “So if he goes back there and gets hurt who do you think will be in trouble? Myself? Or you?”

Yeah, but Deion Sanders was the best cornerback in his day and he also an all-time returner great.

“Deion Sanders did it his whole career, though,’’ Stukes said. “Patrick hasn’t done it his whole career. And to put a guy back there who is our starting [cornerback], to put him in harm’s way that would be idiotic by me.

“Now if you said we could put Kendall Hinton back there or someone of that sort? Absolutely," Stukes said. "But Kendall as explosive as Montrell – this is no disrespect to Kendall. Kendall is a very good athlete. He can catch the ball. He has good returner mechanics. We want an explosive guy back there. We feel Montrell gives us the best chance for an explosive return. That’s why he’s back there.

“There’s going to be some growing pains. Just like there’s growing pains with Corliss. I knew that when we drafted (Washington). I signed up for this. It’s my job to get him right and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Some decent 5 o’clock news material from a 5 minute, 30-second press conference.


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