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Bronco notes: Mims hopes to join Billy Thompson as league leader in both return categories

Backup safety P.J. Locke, who missed the Vikings game with a left ankle injury, returned to practice Thursday.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo — What first needs to happen for Marvin Mims Jr. is to get the other team to give him a few more chances.

As it stands now, Mims does not have enough returns (according to Pro Football Reference) to qualify for the NFL’s punt return or kickoff return lead. Which is too bad because the Broncos’ rookie is otherwise the league’s leader by wide margins in each category. He is averaging 33.6 yards in kickoff returns where next best is Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew at 27.7 yards. Mims’ punt return average of 20.7 yards would also be tops with the Chargers’ Derius Davis well back at 15.9.

Mims is almost too good. He has but seven kickoff returns – touchbacks are easy at Mile High for NFL kickers – and nine punt returns. The minimum requirement to become an official leader is 1.25 returns per team game in each category, so Mims would need 21 each by season’s end to qualify. As the air gets colder and the ball doesn’t travel as far, and the kicking legs become a little more fatigued, Mims could start seeing more returnable boots in the final seven games.

In 1969, the Broncos’ Billy Thompson became the only rookie to lead his league – the American Football League – in both kickoff returns (28.5) and punt returns (11.5).

“That’s pretty cool,’’ Mims said. “I didn’t know that.’’

If it works out, Mims would like to follow Thompson as the NFL’s leader in both return categories – even if it’s on an unofficial basis.

“Yeah for sure,’’ Mims said. “I think it would be cool, especially the way it’s been going now, it’s definitely doable.”

Locke update

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos safeties P.J. Locke and Delarrin Turner-Yell celebrate a turnover against the Kansas City Chiefs. (AP Photo/Bart Young)

Broncos backup safety P.J. Locke practiced Thursday for the first time since he suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter of the Broncos’ 24-7 win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 29.

“It went all right, it’s a work in progress,’’ Locke said. “Feel like I made some improvements. I couldn’t even run last week. See how everything goes.’’

Locke’s recovery is under a more intense watch this week as starting safety Kareem Jackson was slapped with a four-game suspension Tuesday If Locke isn’t ready to play this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Dellarin Turner-Yell figures to be lined up next to Justin Simmons. Turner-Yell has started two games at safety this season.

“They’re not really pushing me or anything, it’s more so they want me to be healthy,’’ Locke said.



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