“I’m not giving up on Isaiah,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post. “He was drafted to be our punt returner. I’m not down on him. He’s a young player. . . . Right now we can’t afford to chance the ball being on the ground, so we’re going to sit him back down and let Jordan Taylor do it the rest of the season.”
McKenzie, a fifth-round pick, made three fair catches Sunday before his miscue. He caught a punt at the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter and then fumbled on a hit by Dolphins linebacker Chase Allen. McKenzie fell on the ball in the end zone for a Dolphins safety.
The Broncos also had a punt blocked, allowed Miami to recover an onside kick and gave up an average of 15.3 yards on four punt returns by Miami’s Jakeem Grant.
In a November 12 game, McKenzie muffed a punt that the Patriots recovered. He has six fumbles with two lost in nine games this season. The Broncos made him inactive for games against the Bengals and Raiders, with Taylor taking over the role. Joseph gave him another chance Sunday, but McKenzie has run out of chances this season.
“He’s our punt returner,” Joseph said. “You want to try to find a way to give a team a spark. With the ball in his hand, he’s a special returner. Obviously he’s had trouble catching the ball and taking care of the football. I thought personally two weeks ago [being inactive] would help him overcome that. That wasn’t so.”