David Kircus may have the Broncos’ longest special-teams return of the season to date, but he knows that he’ll still catch flak for it.
That’s what happens when a 42-yard return — even one that sets up a touchdown three plays later — ends at the hands of the opposing punter, as his first-quarter runback did Sunday when Shane Lechler brought him down.
“I’m going to get grief in the locker room come Wednesday, I know that,” Kircus jokingly said Sunday. “I might not show up for the special-teams meeting; I might call in sick for that one.
“I’ll hear about it, but I don’t really feel as bad about it, because we scored on that drive. If we hadn’t scored, then it would have hurt a lot more.”
That runback, though, was part of the Broncos’ best kick-return day of the season to date. Kircus’ other punt return covered 15 yards, giving him a 28.5-yard average for the day. Kickoff returner Brian Clark, meanwhile, averaged 22.0 yards on his three returns.
Clark’s insertion into the return units has helped galvanize them. His his 20.8-yard kickoff-runback average 3.0 yards better than anyone else on the team, and the Broncos have averaged 20.1 yards per kickoff return since he was promoted to the active roster — a 4.7-yard improvement over the first six games. But the punt returns have improved, as well; the average the last three games has been 22.3 yards per return; before it was 7.6.
Other mid-week notes around the league:
- When the Broncos visited New England in September, pregame discussion centered around the Patriots’ already-fading grass field, which had taken a beating from a Rolling Stones concert and a New England Revolution soccer game in the days prior to Denver’s 17-7 win. Subsequent sod transfusions were of little help, so the Patriots are going artificial, installing FieldTurf in time for their Nov. 26 game with the Chicago Bears. New England becomes the first team to change its home surface at midseason since the Dallas Cowboys installed RealGrass early in the 2002 campaign. But that was a turf-to-turf change, versus the grass-to-turf switchover in progress. The since-demolished Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium brandished an artificial surface for its first 20 seasons — from 1971-90 — before going au naturel upon the hiring of Dick MacPherson and the affixation of red facemasks to the white “Pat Patriot” helmets in 1991.
- Kansas City quarterback Trent Green was medically cleared to return after missing the last two months after being knocked unconscious against Cincinnati in Week 1. With Green able to return if the Chiefs so desire and tight end Tony Gonzalez out for at least this week, Kansas City’s offense could be in a temporary state of flux.
- They blog in San Diego, too; click here to check out the blog over at Chargers.com.
The Broncos reconvene today; the usual compliment of coverage on this here site — press conferences, Broncos TV, notebook, etc. — will come your way. For now, in the words of Homer Simpson, “File this under ‘R’ — for ‘arrivederci.’”