To Matt Henningsen, sacking Justin Herbert on “Monday Night Football” was an ultimate dream come true.
It’s been a while since the Broncos new defensive lineman has rapidly become a major player for Denver’s defense. However after six games, did not yet have an erupting moment. It was only at the end of second quarter of Monday when he scored his first sack of his career.
“It was a blast,” Matt Henningsen told the media. “It was a fairly simple one, actually. You just cut me loose and I had a clean path and I did it. It was simply amazing.”
A sixth-round selection from Wisconsin, Henningsen has played in every game during the season with the Broncos playing in the second team as a defensive lineman. He’s had 83 snaps, which is five tackles.
Although his numbers might not stand out but the team has been impressed by Henningsen and has given him more workouts every week.
“He’s done a good job,” defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said. “It’s amazing to see all of these youngsters making a difference. As you mentioned”week in and week out, he improves, beginning in the preseason. He’s been a great player. It was great to watch him get that sack previous night, and also make excellent plays in the run game.”
Henningsen’s improvements from week to week shouldn’t come as an issue. He’s surpassed his expectations throughout his football career. As a former walk-on from Wisconsin, Henningsen worked his way to becoming one of the best defensive linemen within the Big Ten, totaling 92 tackles and 13.5 sacks over the course of 37 games during his college. The lineman was an All-Big Ten selection his senior season.
His work ethic hasn’t changed since Denver.
“I was absent from all OTAs due to my injury and so when I came to training camp, I was in the back of the eight-ball just a more,” Henningsen said. “But I did learn many things in the time I could when I was injured. … I’m trying to be in the game for a bit every week, and try to maximize my opportunities in the field.”
Now that he’s got the first bag in his bag, he’s confident that it’s only going to get better from here.
“I strive to play confidently every time I go out,” Henningsen said. “I would like to have a sack on every single time. I’m trying to build upon this and improve every day, because in the long run, should one wants to remain in the NFL it is imperative to improve.”
Evero remains a believer in Mathis
Another rookie who’s role has begun to expand includes defensive back Damarri Mathis. He was a starter in the place in place of Ronald Darby Monday. Mathis however, did not play as memorable as Matt Henningsen — at the very least and not in a positive way.
Mathis has four penalties for pass interference totaling 87 yards. However, despite some difficult decisions, Evero still believes in the fourth-round selection going forward.
“He did an excellent job -and you’re not shocked by the young man’s story and how he performs and his confidence and everything else that he’s displayed from the beginning,” Evero said. “It was great to watch his determination to go out and keep fighting. This is a normal part of playing in the NFL and especially in that position. You must deal with the elements, and he did well.”
Wilson still limited
Quarterback Russell Wilson (hamstring) was still unable to practice on Thursday and his condition for Sunday’s game seems to be in doubt. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett said they are training for backup quarterbacks Brett Rypien and Josh Johnson in the event Wilson is unable to play.
Hackett said that Wilson is likely to have a significant amount of influence in the choice on whether he’ll take part.
“First and foremost is Russell,” Hackett said. “I want to ensure that I’m in contact with Russell in a way that he can communicate with me to ensure that he’s in the right attitude, and that he’s in good shape and able to play football of the highest level. Naturally, the medical team is enormous. We want to make sure that we’re doing right with the medical professionals. They’re the ones who know everything about the situation. They are (GM) George Paton. They’re the ones who we’re talking to.”