As his role in the Broncos’ offense grows, WR Kendall Hinton is excited to…

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The next chapter in Kendall Hinton’s story will be written this week in a familiar setting.

The Wake Forest graduate will return to his home state of North Carolina, where he will have the opportunity to play in front of some family members who have never seen him compete at the NFL level.

When the Broncos take on the Panthers in Week 12, Hinton expects roughly 15 members of his family to descend on Bank of America Stadium as he continues his improbable NFL career.

“I’m really excited,” Hinton said Tuesday. “I get to play against hunger for [the first time in] who knows how long. It’s been years.”

Hinton’s Demon Deacons played in the Belk Bowl at Panthers Stadium in 2017, but Hinton was injured and was unable to play.

“This will be my first time stepping foot on [the Panthers’] field,” Hinton said.

The Broncos last played in Charlotte in 2020, just two weeks after the famous game against the Saints in which Hinton played quarterback for Denver. Hinton remained on the practice squad for the Broncos’ win, but is expected to play in his first NFL game in his home state on Sunday.

The North Carolina native didn’t make it to a Panthers game growing up in Durham, a little more than two hours from Charlotte, or to school in Winston-Salem. Hinton said he didn’t attend his first NFL game, in any state, until he was with the Broncos in 2020.

Hinton gradually progressed in his career, going from his one-game cameo in 2020 to catching 15 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in 2021. Through eight games in 2022, Hinton has recorded 13 catches for 227 yards, the career high.

“That’s what football is all about, it’s about experience,” Hinton said. “I think every play I get, I’m able to progress. It’s the NFL, so it’s limited reps. It’s just taking advantage of each and every play and keep getting better.”

As he moves forward, Hinton has earned praise from head coach Nathaniel Hackett and offensive coordinator Justin Outten in recent weeks. He largely earned that praise after a Week 10 game against the Titans, when he filled in for an injured Jerry Jeudy and switched from where he lined up after spending the week practicing at another position.

“I don’t think anybody can understand what he did in that Tennessee game, starting there,” Hackett said Tuesday. “To continue while he’s only worked [in] one position and then in the first game, he has to jump into a completely different position. I think that’s just a testament to his intelligence, how he understands the system. He knows where to line up. -se, all the different spots we can put him and he’s been dynamic. He’s been able to win on one-on-one routes, he’s got a lot of change, and when you throw that intelligence at him. in there, obviously, for his experience as a quarterback, he’s been very good for us. We’re very happy to have him and we’ve got to keep him.”

Hinton has come on in recent weeks, catching seven passes for 119 yards in the last two weeks. Hinton had just seven catches for 108 yards in his first six games combined. With Jeudy and KJ Hamler out of the lineup, Hinton has become more integral to the offense, and he said he’s worked to prove himself to his coaches and teammates.

“That’s what I’ve busted my ass for, is to gain the trust of my coaches and to gain the trust of my teammates,” Hinton said. “That’s how you get on the field, is to do what you have to do and not make mistakes. I’m very proud of that.”

Hinton hopes he can also help Denver’s offense, which has averaged just 14.7 points per game through 10 games.

“We continue to see the looks,” Hinton said. “We’re still seeing what we can do. I think it’s a matter of being consistent and finishing games, staying on the field in third position. We have potential, it’s just putting it all together.”

In front of his family and in his home state, Hinton will look to take another step in his own career, and perhaps score his first touchdown of the season.

“A lot of people haven’t been able to see me play,” Hinton said, “so it’s going to be exciting to do what I love in front of the people I love.”

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