ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Last season, Kendall Hinton made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Monday, the former Wake Forest star narrowly missed in his bid to make the team.
Hinton, sixth-round receiver Seth Williams, reserve offensive lineman Austin Schlottmann and third-string quarterback Brett Rypien highlighted a flurry of cuts as the Broncos shaved their roster to 53 players by Tuesday's 2 p.m. deadline.
Reserve offensive tackle Cam Fleming and backup defensive tackle Shamar Stephen were cut, but general manager George Paton said "both will be back." It served as a procedural move to release them, allowing them to sign at a different salary.
Paton is pleased where team is heading into the opener as Broncos aim to snap streak of four straight losing seasons.
"I do like this football team. I thought we had nice preseason and nice training camp led by (coach) Vic (Fangio) and the coaches. I like the track we are on. We are excited," Paton said. "I thought it was really important to win games in the preseason. Winning is contagious. They like to win and they are feeling it."
Hinton wrote an inspirational story a year ago, turning a 11th hour phone call into an emergency quarterback role against the New Orleans Saints after Drew Lock, Rypien and Blake Bortles were sidelined for violating COVID-19 protocols.
The Saints smashed the Broncos 31-3, and Hinton completed only one pass. But he earned the respect of his teammates and opponent for his selfless act as a practice squad receiver playing the toughest position in sports for the first time since his junior year at Wake Forest. The Hall of Fame requested received his wristband with the plays.
"I didn't know about it. But it was special," Hinton said. "I wish I had done better, though."
Hinton is a competitor and has shown dramatic improvement as a receiver. However, Trinity Benson turned heads for the past month, and is in prime position to earn a final roster spot with Hinton, Williams and 2020 seventh-rounder Tyrie Cleveland waived. If Hinton passes through waivers, he hopes to join the Broncos' practice squad, which can include up to 16 players.
"If I clear, then yeah I'll definitely be back for psquad. No question, I have a lot to prove," Hinton told Denver7.
Williams, a former Auburn star, showed flashed throughout camp, but lacked consistency. Cleveland battled nagging injuries and failed to gain traction he had last season. Both are practice squad candidates. Schlottmann finished the preseason on my projected 53-man roster as the backup center. Rookie Quinn Meinerz now assumes that role for now and starting right guard Graham Glasgow can also play center as well. Meinerz struggled with snaps -- he never played a snap at the position during his DIII college career -- while showing promise at guard.
A mild surprise came Tuesday afternoon as cornerback Nate Hairston failed to make the team. The intention is to bring him back on the practice squad. He outplayed seventh-round rookie Kary Vincent Jr., however Vincent's elite speed and "coverage ability," according to Paton made him a keeper.
In the end, the Broncos waived 22 players, released three (veterans Fleming, Stephen and Hairston) and placed cornerbacks Essang Bassey and Duke Dawson on the physically unable to perform list as they recover from ACL surgerie.
Running back Mike Boone (quadriceps) and cornerback Michael Ojemudia (hamstring) will go on the short-term IR. So they count on the 53 man initially, but Fleming and Stephen will take their place.
Boone's recovery time was set for 4-to-6 weeks after he suffered the injury in practice vs Minnesota. He is eligible to return after the third game of the season. Ojemudia hurt his hamstring against Seattle, leaving him likely out at least a month, if not longer.
The final list includes 16 players who were not with the club last season, and also features linebacker Andre Mintze. He is the 26 undrafted free agent to make the team since 1997.
- RT Cam Fleming
- CB Nate Hairston
- DL Shamar Stephen
- OT Quinn Bailey
- TE Shaun Beyer
- WR Tyrie Cleveland
- RB Damarea Crockett
- TE Austin Fort
- OT Drew Himmelman
- WR Kendall Hinton
- DL Isaiah Mack
- S Trey Marshall
- CB Mac McLain III
- CB Parnell Motley
- WR De’Mornay Pierson-El
- FB Adam Prentice
- LB Curtis Robinson
- QB Brett Rypien
- C/G Austin Schlottmann
- RB Stevie Scott
- CB Saivion Smith
- DE Marquiss Spencer
- OLB Derrek Tuszka
- LB Barrington Wade
- WR Seth Williams
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST
CB Essang Bassey
CB Duke Dawson