Broncos’ new backup QB is former Stanford star
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If anything happens to Case Keenum, the Denver Broncos’ offense would be in the hands of Kevin Hogan, who rose up the depth chart when Chad Kelly slipped up.
A third-year pro, Hogan has one NFL start on a resume that includes more wins (36) and total yardage (10,634) in college than any of the all-time great quarterbacks who played for Stanford, including his boss, John Elway.
“Kevin has played in games. He’s a smart guy,” coach Vance Joseph said. “He’s picked it up quick and we have full confidence in Kevin.”
The Broncos were awarded Hogan off waivers from Washington last month after Kelly beat out first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the No. 2 job in Denver.
Kelly was dismissed from the team Wednesday , a day after his arrest on suspicion on criminal trespass in the hours after a team-building Halloween party in suburban Englewood.
In Hogan, Keenum sees much of himself.
“I have a lot of trust in Kevin. I think, similar paths. Been on a few teams and he’s done a great job stepping in and getting a lot of mental reps every day,” Keenum said. “Getting better every day. He’s done a great job, great team guy, great locker room guy to be around. I have complete trust in him if he needs to step in.”
On Thursday, the Broncos added former Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson to their practice squad after promoting receiver/returner Isaiah McKenzie to their active roster. Grayson is a third-year pro who spent two seasons on the Saints’ active roster and practice squad (2015-16) and last year on the Falcons’ practice squad.
“Isaiah’s been working very hard. He’s got a skillset that you can’t teach and that’s speed,” Joseph said Thursday. “So, when you can add a guy with that kind of speed, it’s always a good thing.”
Joseph said Grayson was “a guy that we’ve been tracking here for a couple of years. He fits the skillset that our quarterbacks have. He can move, he’s got a very good arm, he’s a smart guy. He’s been on an active roster in New Orleans for two years, so he’s got some experience.
“So, having that spot available, pushing Isaiah up to the roster and bringing up a guy of that caliber, that will help us in the future.”
The Broncos (3-4) travel to Kansas City (6-1) this weekend to face the team that drafted Hogan in the fifth round in 2016.
“These things have a funny way of coming full-circle,” said Hogan, who will be active Sunday for the first time with the Broncos. “It’s going to be fun to go out there and suit up. I’m not worried about that right now. My job is to get myself prepared, but also to get Case as prepared as possible.”
Hogan still has a big fan in Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
“I love him,” Reid said. “He’s got sniper vision. He’s got great eyes and he sees everything. I’m pulling for him. I’m one of his fans. I like the way he goes about his business. He’s a brilliant kid.”
Elway’s record on QB acquisitions is spotty aside from luring Peyton Manning to Denver for the second chapter of his brilliant career.
Ever since Manning’s retirement in 2016, the Broncos have had their troubles at quarterback, whether with free agent Mark Sanchez or draft picks Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Lynch or Kelly.
Even Keenum’s acquisition is looking more like a short-term situation.
He signed a two-year, $36 million deal in March after leading the Vikings to the NFC championship game, but he’s off to a middling start in Denver with eight TDs and nine interceptions and is the only quarterback in the league with interceptions in all seven of his team’s games.
He missed a wide-open Demaryius Thomas for the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of Denver’s 27-23 loss at home to the Chiefs on Oct. 1, and was booed in a 23-20 loss to the Rams in Denver two weeks later.
Hogan has been a game-day inactive all season but now will be one snap away from playing.
“I feel very prepared. This is going on Week 7 or 8 in the system and I spend a lot of time working and studying,” Hogan said. “I always took the game plan seriously and prepared as if I was playing. I’m not going to treat it any differently, just going to put the uniform on.”