The speedy running back Khalfani Muhammad will be fighting an uphill battle to make the jump from the practice squad onto the 53-man roster.
Muhammad entered the league in 2017 as a 7th round choice by the Titans and spent a season on their practice squad. He started 2018 with New England, and eventually was picked up by Denver onto their practice squad in late 2018 and has stuck there ever since.
While he played well in the preseason in 2019, Muhammad did not make the final roster cut, but was immediately signed back to the practice squad after being waived last year.
He was signed to a reserve/futures contract at the end of last year and will head into camp hoping to impress enough to make the team.
#33 Khalfani Muhammad, RB
Age 25. 5’7”, 174 lbs.
As you can guess from Muhammad’s size, his calling card is his speed and quickness. He received a good chunk of snaps in this past preseason, and I thought he looked pretty good. He had a really big explosive run against the Cardinals, and ran well between the tackles against Atlanta.
HE GONE!— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 30, 2019
Khalfani Muhammad breaks free to set up the #Broncos touchdown. #AZvsDEN pic.twitter.com/RMVMt2QAP3
Another piece to Muhammad’s game that could help him make the roster is his kick return prowess. Special Team’s coach Tom McMahon mentioned Khalfani a few times in his media call last week when asked about who he was looking to be a leader on special teams.
“All those guys—[TE/FB] Andrew Beck, [ILB] Josh Watson, a lot of the guys that have come through. I’m expecting good things from Khalfani [Muhammad]. He was on our practice squad—[S] Alijah Holder, Trinity Benson that spent a lot of time—[OLB] Malik Carney—on that practice squad. I think all those guys have to come in and have to produce. I think it’s going to set itself in training camp. I can’t just single out one guy, but Beck for Jano (Browns FB Andy Janovich), naturally, and Beck played the whole season for us.”
There’s competition everywhere. ‘Spence’ (WR Diontae Spencer) was a great returner for us last year. We’ve got other guys in the building and they can all run: [RB] Khalfani [Muhammad], Spence, KJ, [WR]Trinity [Benson]—they all run—[WR] Tyrie Cleveland. They can all run very very well. [WR] Kelvin McKnight has great juice. We’re excited to work with all those guys. That’s what KJ brings to the table.”
The biggest knock on Muhammad is his slight stature. At 5’7” and just 174 lbs he is smaller than Phillip Lindsay, and Lindsay is pushing it in terms of size. You just don’t see guys Muhammad’s size sticking long at the NFL level as much more than gadget guys.
Additionally, while he has some decent wiggle, I don’t think his quickness or explosiveness is strong enough for a guy his size, to consistently make people miss.
This is a tough year to make the roster for a guy in Muhammad’s shoes. The running back room is crowded at the top with Gordon, Lindsay, and Freeman, and I like LeVante Bellamy, the rookie from Western Michigan. I think he brings about what Khalfani can to the team, but is bigger and has much more experience and toughness between the tackles.
Special teams is the next place he could potentially carve out a niche, but with Spencer likely getting first dibs at being a designated return man, if Denver goes that route, and KJ Hamler likely getting some looks there, that’s a crowded space too.
Ultimately, I think Muhammad will land on the practice squad again, and could be a good reserve if someone goes down in camp, or the Broncos need some depth throughout the season.