Playing in not just his first NFL game, but any football game in 15 months, Broncos rookie Netane Muti had understandable jitters Sunday at Carolina.
“At first, I was nervous, but once I started playing, all of that faded away,” Muti said in a phone interview with The Denver Post on Wednesday. “It was a fun experience and I hope to get to do it again.”
Muti may get to do “it” again Saturday against Buffalo if Graham Glasgow (foot) is unable to play. The Broncos could choose to be conservative with Glasgow after Muti earned a positive review from coach Vic Fangio.
According to The Post’s game charting, Muti was responsible for 1/2 sack, two quarterback knockdowns (one of which resulted in a Panthers personal foul) and 1/2 of a “bad” run block. But his athleticism was noticeable when asked to block on the move.
“I was really impressed with his play,” Fangio said. “This was his first game in probably a year-and-a-half and I thought he went in there and did a very nice job. He made some good blocks, got out on the screen and made a good block.”
Muti missed Fresno State’s final nine games of 2019 (foot injury) and declared for the draft a year early. The Broncos selected him in the sixth round and he didn’t play an offensive snap in the first 12 games.
The Broncos used Austin Schlottmann as their fill-in right guard when Glasgow missed two games because of coronavirus and when he was unable to finish the Week 13 game vs. Kansas City. Last week, though, Muti got his shot.
Even though he wasn’t playing earlier, Muti believed he was improving in practice.
“Most definitely,” he said. “Especially going against the defensive line we have and guys like Shelby (Harris). It was tough (being patient), but that’s what I was told my role was going to be.”
Muti had three blocks that stood out: Pulling from right to left on running back Phillip Lindsay’s six-yard rush, a solid seal-out block on Lindsay’s nine-yard gain and getting into space on running back Melvin Gordon’s 20-yard screen pass.
Muti said showing his athleticism “felt good. I felt I was back to normal and the coaches trusted me to do stuff like that and it opens up your playbook even more. I hope to get to do it again.”
The sack, which forced Drew Lock to fumble, appeared to be a communication error between Muti and right tackle Elijah Wilkinson. Not so, Muti said.
“We actually knew what we were doing — I couldn’t see,” he said. “(The Panthers’) Derrick Brown just took up my whole (view). We were supposed to pick that (blitz) up, but that’s something we fixed.”
Bolles, Fant “fine.” Fangio said left tackle Garett Bolles and tight end Noah Fant are “fine” after being struck by an illness during the team’s trip to Carolina. Bolles was a late scratch and Fant played only five snaps. Bolles and Fant stayed overnight Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., and flew back to the Denver area once their COVID-19 tests came back negative.
Fangio said Gordon (shoulder) and Lindsay (hip) would have been limited if the Broncos had a regular Wednesday practice.
“I think they’ll both be OK by (Saturday),” Fangio said.
Simmons wins ‘Good Guy.’ In a vote of media who regularly cover the Broncos, safety Justin Simmons was selected as the “Good Guy Award” winner, given annually to the player who assists reporters via availability and insight.
Simmons is the Broncos’ first three-time winner (2017, ’19-20) in the 14 years since the award was named after late cornerback Darrent Williams.
“I said it in previous years, but I don’t take this award for granted,” Simmons said. “This is such a tremendous honor.”
Through his foundation, Simmons also announced grants to three charities — Denver Rescue Mission and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Boston and Martin County in Florida — to provide more than 130 holiday gifts for 25 families.
Spencer honored. Returner Diontae Spencer was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after he scored on an 83-yard punt return against Carolina. Spencer’s touchdown boosted his average to 17.5 yards, second in the NFL (minimum 10 returns).
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