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Will Diontae Spencer solve the Broncos returner woes?

(Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)

The Broncos did a lot of work selecting their 53-man roster. They had to go through players already on the team to see if they could make the roster, but they also were looking at other team’s players that were cut.

Wide receiver Diontae Spencer was waived by the Steelers with the idea they could sneak him through to their practice squad. Instead, the Broncos scooped him up for their active roster.

He will immediately be counted on as the team’s primary return man. Spencer is excited about his new opportunity with the Broncos.

“It’s a big opportunity. I’m just blessed to be here. This is my first time in Denver. I’m just ready to get here, work, get to know everybody, my teammates, coaches and just play football.” Spencer said.

Will Spencer solve the Broncos returner woes? Let’s take a look.

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

I knew about Spencer’s game from college at McNeese State, but I didn’t know much about his background outside of football. Searching on the internet, I came across this fantastic video that showed Spencer’s background and motivation for playing football. Watching it early on Tuesday morning, I got chills listening to Spencer’s story.

Spencer has been through a lot for a young man, and he’s certainly focused on making it in the NFL to honor his family who has supported him through all the tough times.

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CFL Stardom

Up in Canada, Spencer did a great job of showcasing his speed and skill set as both a receiver and a returner. He has 4.3 speed, but most importantly, he can change direction without losing that speed. He’s able to make cuts at full speed, which makes him very difficult for defenders to line up for a tackle.

He spent two seasons with the Toronto Argonauts, then spent two seasons with the Ottawa Redblacks. In addition to catching a lot of passes in four years, Spencer set records for all-purpose yards with the Redblacks
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Spencer ended the 2017 regular season by making a new CFL mark for all-purpose yards in a single game with 496 yards. In that game, Spencer had 133 yards receiving, 165 kickoff return yards, 169 punt return yards and 29 missed field goal return yards.

That experience in the CFL really helped Spencer gain confidence and find his way back to the NFL.

“It helped me a lot. At the time, being a young guy going to Toronto, Canada, not knowing what to expect, I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to mature, become a good football player and just grow as a person. I think it helped me get back to this journey, this place I’m at now and I feel good about it.” Spencer said.

The CFL film shows Spencer making plays with speed. However, during his time in Canada, Spencer also became more nuanced as a receiver. He is primarily a return man, but putting together a few plays for the speedy wideout here and there would make sense for the Broncos.

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Another NFL Chance

Spencer got a chance to make it in the NFL based on what he did in the CFL, but this isn’t his first time at the top level. Coming out of McNeese State in 2014, Spencer got a chance to try out with the Bears. He then got signed by the Rams and spent a few months with them before being released.

Spencer then spent four seasons in the CFL before getting signed to a futures contract by the Steelers in January.
I checked in with my sources around the Steelers and was told that Spencer was a coveted player who the team wanted on their practice squad. His heart and determination were evident each day in practice, and I was told that Spencer was popular among his Steelers teammates.

The Broncos have a knack for stealing players away, like they did with Todd Davis (Saints) and Brandon Marshall (Jaguars) just to name a couple. Spencer has the talent, work ethic and drive to be the best he can be in the pros. That gives the Broncos a chance to have Spencer go down as another quality player they’ve stolen away from other teams.

In order for that to happen, Spencer will have to stand out on special teams. Given the struggles the Broncos have had in that department for years, it looks like he might be able to do just that.