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Broncos notes: Running back Borghi signs with hometown team

Dulcich, Hamler make progress. Healthy receivers in short supply.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If Max Borghi heard it once, he must have heard it hundreds of times growing up: You’re going to play for the Denver Broncos someday.

That day has arrived as Borghi won a workout audition Wednesday morning and signed with the Broncos. The versatile running back from Arvada’s Pomona High School and Washington State is an undrafted rookie. He rushed for 3,512 yards and 50 touchdowns in his three varsity seasons at Pomona – with 1,690 yards and 27 touchdowns coming as a senior.

He attended Washington State and broke out as a sophomore when he had 817 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing and 86 catches along with 5 more touchdowns receiving.

A back injury and COVID cancellations marred Borghi’s encore season in 2020. Although he bounced back with 880 yards rushing on 5.5 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns last season as a senior, Borghi went undrafted. Signed as a college free agent Indianapolis right after the 2022 NFL Draft, Borghi was surprisingly cut three weeks later.

He had a minicamp tryout with the Broncos in June and he did well enough to get a job later when the team was in need.

And after reserve running back Damarea Crockett suffered a season-ending ACL injury during practice Tuesday, the , Broncos were in need. Their top two running backs – Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III – are not expected to get more than a handful of carries during the Broncos’ three-game preseason. Behind him them is Mike Boone, undrafted rookie Tyriek McAllister and now Borghi.

RELATED: Broncos' Tim Patrick, Damarea Crockett out for the year with ACL injuries

Credit: AP Photo/Young Kwak
Washington State running back Max Borghi, left, runs while under pressure from Colorado safety Mikial Onu during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

Progress for Dulcich, Hamler

True, it was only half-speed, or whatever slice a jog-through is compared to the usual full-speed practice. Still, there were plenty of 11 on 11 team reps and rookie tight end Greg Dulcich and receiver KJ Hamler took a few for the first time in camp.

It’s progress, even if neither young player has been cleared for 11 on 11 full-pad contact yet.

Dulcich is a third-round rookie who appeared early in the offseason as if he was legitimately competing with Albert Okwuegbunam for the starting tight end position held by Noah Fant the previous three seasons. But Dulcich pulled a hamstring/core muscle in the second week of OTAs in early June and hadn’t practiced since then until Wednesday.

"My dad would always tell me, ‘Tom Landry back in the day, the minute those things happen, you never rush it back. Right when you think they’re good, give them longer,’" head coach Nathaniel Hackett said Monday when asked if he was concerned about how long Dulcich had been sidelined. "Those (injuries) are so finicky and we just want to be sure that we’re doing it the right way. He’s doing a great job studying, working out. He works out hard over there on the other field with the trainers. So again, we just want to be sure that—it’s a long way before that first game. We just want to be sure we do it the right way."

RELATED: KJ Hamler returns, opens up about mental and emotional low point during recovery

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos tight end Greg Dulcich takes part in drills Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at the NFL football team's headquarters in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Receiver shortage

Besides the season-ending ACL injury suffered Tuesday by starter Tim Patrick, the Broncos were down two other receivers in practice Wednesday as Tyrie Cleveland remained out with a throat injury and Kendall Hinton was given a day to rest a sore knee.

Cleveland didn't just get poked in the throat -- he got whacked there by a helmet and will be out 4 to 6 weeks, according to a source. Broncos' special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes has already said Cleveland is being counted on as one of his core players so the injury is a blow. The timeline will put Cleveland out the rest of the preseason with hope he is back in time to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at Seattle.

The Broncos worked out three receivers Wednesday but didn’t sign any as of the 2 p.m. transaction wire deadline. Update: The Broncos signed receiver Darrius Shepherd on Thursday morning. He was with Hackett in Green Bay from 2019-2020 when he played in 14 games and had three catches. 

Bronco Bits

The other five players who worked out Wednesday for the Broncos alongside Borghi and Shepherd: Receivers Jonathan Adams, Kekoa Crawford and Darrius Shepherd; running backs Jaquan Hardy and Jaylen Samuels and former Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello. …

Netane Muti alternated first-team reps with Quinn Meinerz at right guard. Muti alternated with Dalton Risner at left guard during the jog-through Wednesday. …

Hackett said the team would practice in full pads Thursday and Saturday. Friday will be another jog-through practice. …

9NEWS announced its broadcast team for the Broncos’ three preseason games: ESPN’s Steve Levy on play-by-play; former Steeler, Seahawk and University of Colorado linebacker Chad Brown, and former Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Harris as in-game analysts; and 9NEWS sports anchor Rod Mackey on the sidelines.

RELATED: 9NEWS announces Broncos preseason broadcast team

Credit: 9NEWS

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