Denver Broncos rookie Marvin Mims Jr. is so electrifying that he commands everybody's undivided attention whenever he gets his hands on the ball.
He already has a 45-yard punt return, a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 60-yard TD grab from Russell Wilson.
“Marvin, he just makes big plays consistently each and every week, week in and week out,” teammate Patrick Surtain II said Thursday. “When we see a guy make big plays like that, it motivates the team. ... The sky's the limit for him. Obviously, he's a great player but it's crazy because I know he's still got more in the tank.”
Mims has 429 all-purpose yards on just 15 total touches (seven catches, three rushes, one punt return and four kickoff returns) through three games.
That ranks third in the NFL behind Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (458 yards on 27 touches, all catches) and Saints receiver/returner Rashid Shaheed (450 yards on 25 touches: nine catches, three rushes, nine kickoff returns and three punt returns).
“I see a very mature rookie,” Broncos right guard Quinn Meinerz said. “He’s been doing a lot of things really well. He’s really fast. We’ve all seen how fast that guy is.”
Mims, a second-round pick out of Oklahoma, leads the Broncos with 195 receiving yards on just seven receptions. That's a whopping 27.5-yard average, way ahead of starters Courtland Sutton (189 yards on 17 catches) and Jerry Jeudy (106 yards on eight receptions).
Yet Mims' offensive snaps have confoundingly gone down every week, from 17 against Las Vegas to 16 against Washington to 15 against Miami.
Two weeks ago, Mims caught passes of 60 and 53 yards and didn't see another pass all afternoon as the Broncos frittered away an early 18-point lead in a 35-33 loss to the Commanders.
“Some of it's coverage-driven and some of it is just based on what we're in,” coach Sean Payton said of Mims' disappearance in the offense after the second quarter. “We ended up in a couple different personnel groupings. Part of that is coincidence, I would say. We had a number of guys we were trying to get the ball to, and we’ll keep doing that.”
Mims followed up that 168-yard performance with a 164-yard day at Miami last Sunday, when his 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was just about the only highlight for Denver in its historic 70-20 shellacking.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was asked if Mims has earned an expanded role.
“Yeah, I think so. I mean, he's in on a lot of plays as it is and you know I think we've got a number of good receivers," Lombardi said. “You could say Courtland's earned an expanded role, Jerry, everyone's doing pretty good. But obviously we see the plays that he's making and hope that continues for sure.”
If the trend holds, however, Mims may end up with fewer snaps Sunday at Chicago than he's had in any game so far — or he may find himself a lot more involved in the game plan as the Broncos try to bounce back from their worst loss since a 51-0 shutout at the hands of the Oakland Raiders in 1967.
Mima isn't sweating it either way. He's just ready to deliver whenever he gets his hands on the ball.
“It’s kind of with the coaching and different personnel groups,” Mims said. “We basically work in all of our receivers who suit up, so it’s just personnel groups and the situation of the game, situation of the downs, whether it’s third-and-long, first-and-10. Different plays and different situations.
"It’s really all up to the coaches and what formations and personnel groups they decide to put on the field at certain times.”
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