Posted Wed Aug 25th by Jon Heath
Following a sensational rookie season in which he amassed nearly 2,000 yards (receiving, rushing, and returning), Eddie Royal fell into a sophomore slump during the 2009 NFL season.
The cause for Eddie’s drop in his production on offense–37 receptions for 345 yards and no scores, opposed to his rookie campaign of 91 catches for 980 yards and five scores–last season is debatable. The most commonly accepted view is that Head Coach Josh McDaniels didn’t do a good job of utilizing Royal’s unique talent. Another view is that Royal’s size was his weakness, instigating defenses to press cover him, “jamming” him at the line of scrimmage, and limiting his productivity. Whether it was the play-calling, McDaniels, or Royal’s fault, or a combination of all, the point is Royal wasn’t much of a weapon for the Broncos last season.
This season however, it looks as if that will change. The Broncos have moved Royal to the slot, where fans anticipate him to flourish in a role similar to that of New England’s Wes Welker. The slot and Royal were practically made for each other, and McDaniels has taken note of that.
“When we evaluated things, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t do near a good enough job of getting (Royal) involved,” McDaniels said. “We think he’s capable of doing a lot of things in our offense.”
There are pros and cons of putting Royal in the slot,
“The results have been mixed through two preseason games,” writes Jeff Legwold. “Royal has only two receptions. But one was for a touchdown at Cincinnati when the Broncos got exactly the matchup they wanted, with Royal beating a linebacker to pull in Orton’s pass.”
“It’s kind of a one-shot deal,” said Eddie Royal. “If you hit that you can get big plays. It’s tough. Sometimes you’re going against bigger guys, your linebackers. You’ve got safeties, and that’s an adjustment I’ve had to make.”
Getting Royal more involved than he was last season is what the Broncos are trying to accomplish, but that’s not to say he wasn’t a factor at all in 2009. Royal is the only wide receiver in NFL history to post at least 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 1,400 return yards through his first two NFL seasons. He also returned both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns last season, in the same game. The Broncos however will now have Royal focusing more at receiver, as rookie conerback Perrish Cox appears more than capable of handling the return duties.
With a new position, and same team-first attitude, Royal’s desire is to not let his team down.
“I want to be able to look in my coaches and teammates faces and say, ‘I gave everything I had, and I did everything I could to help you win,'” said Royal.” If I do that, I’ll be fine.”
Royal’s role at slot with Broncos [The Denver Post]
Eddie Royal 2010 Promo [YouTube]