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Keeler: Marvin Mims Jr., let’s ride! Broncos Country needs hero now that Tim Patrick is lost to another season-ending injury.


On a cloudy day in Broncos Country, the silver lining won the day by simply walking away on his own two feet.

“He’s doing well. He’s feeling good,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said of rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr., who returned to the practice field Monday after a hamstring issue.

“You are going to see him more and more this week. He’s going to be ramping up. We’re encouraged.”

The rest of the forecast? Hide your eyes. The Broncos’ wide receivers room doesn’t need a coach right now. It needs an exorcist.

Speedster KJ Hamler revealed he’s battling pericarditis, a condition that involves swelling or irritation of the lining around the heart, which is awful enough. And yet that somehow wasn’t the worst of it.

On the first day of contact at Broncos training camp, the most crushing blow of the day came high from light wind and low from a patch of slippery grass.

“Expletive!”

Veteran wideout Tim Patrick appeared to slip during 7-on-7 drills while trying to plant. There was a shout, a pop, and heads turned. Next thing we knew, the affable former Utah Ute was prone, throwing away his gloves and helmet, sitting up gingerly.

You can’t make this stuff up. Left Achilles tear, sources tell The Post’s Parker Gabriel. On Aug. 2, 2022, a year ago Wednesday, Big 81 went for a pass down the sideline and blew his right anterior cruciate ligament in the process.

Patrick is a class act, win or lose, the sort of undrafted-player-makes-good tale you root for, the kind of professional adored by teammates and respected by cynical reporters alike. The football gods got this one wrong.

But whenever the NFL ecosystem closes a window, it inevitably opens a door, too. You just hope Mims, a 5-foot-11 quick-twitch type and second-round pick out of Oklahoma, has the wheels to run through it.

Patrick’s return for 2023 was supposed to make Mims a luxury item. Now?

Now the kid might become a necessity.

In a perfect world, the rook could ease his way onto the field while ramping up to the game’s speed and physicality gradually. He could be tried out in different slots and scenarios because Patrick could be trusted to handle the dirty work, the grunt stuff, down low. The quick hitches. The sideline outs. The red-zone acrobatics.

The Broncos are missing a burner in Hamler and a “hands” guy in Patrick. A reported 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year gives you hope for Mims on the speed front.

But where Big Russ needs the most help going forward is probably on third downs and short fields, when the Broncos’ offense ran the gamut from completely pathetic to darkly comic.

Patrick has been more steady than spectacular since he worked his way onto the depth chart, but the steady has been very, very steady. His drop percentages, per Pro-Football-Reference:

2020: 0.0% on 79 targets

2021: 3.5% on 85 targets

Courtland Sutton’s drop percentages, same source:

2021: 3.1% on 98 targets

2022: 8.3% on 109 targets

Jerry Jeudy’s drop rate:

2021: 1.5% on 56 targets

2022: 5.0% on 100 targets

Ex-Saint Marquez Callaway ticks some boxes. He knows Payton. He knows the system. He brings decent size (6-2, 204) to the table.

As for Callaway’s hands? Well …

2021: 4.8% drop rate on 84 targets

2022: 9.4% on 32 targets

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