Success on the field came with a price though as he dealt with a nagging toe injury that kept him off the practice field for the majority of the season.
Royal's touchdown haul was rather remarkable when considering he did so on just 47 catches, a score for every 5.9 catches. It tied for the sixth-highest ratio in the league in 2013. He scored five touchdowns before the season was two games old, matching his season high while recording the most touchdown catches by a Chargers wide receiver in a two-game span since 1982. Royal also excelled at stretching the field, averaging a career-best 13.4 yards per catch in 2013, more than three yards higher than his career average coming into the season. He finished the year, playoffs included, on a streak of five straight games in which he had a catch of 20 yards or longer.
Royal's toe injury dated to the Chargers' 19-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 14. The injury was serious enough that it kept him off the practice field nearly the entire remainder of the season, but Royal was able to fight through the pain and he missed just one game the entire year.
A native of Chantilly, Virginia, Royal played collegiately at Virginia Tech. Compactly built at 5-10 and 185 pounds, he opened eyes at the NFL Combine in 2008 when he bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times, most among all receivers at that year's combine. The Denver Broncos selected him in the second round of the '08 draft and he made an immediate impact, racking up nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut against the Oakland Raiders. When the 2008 season concluded, Royal earned All-Rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly, the Professional Football Writers of America and The Sporting News after a season in which he posted the second-most catches by an NFL rookie (91), while tallying 980 yards and five touchdowns. Royal set Broncos rookie records in all three categories and led all NFL rookies in those categories, while becoming the league's first player since the NFL merger in 1970 to record his team's longest run, reception, kickoff return and punt return in the same season.
Royal began his NFL career wearing No. 19 but in 2011, he switched his uniform number to 11. He wears his current number in honor of former Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, who passed away on Sept. 20, 2010. McKinley joined the Broncos as a fifth round pick from South Carolina in 2009.
Royal's sister, Capt. Christina Royal, is a graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and she is currently a special agent in the United States Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. She was the first-ever female regimental commander and the first-ever African-American regimental commander for the Corps of Cadets, where she was in charge of all the cadets at the school. Royal's brother, Chris, played defensive back at Marshall University from 2002-05 and he later played in the Arena Football and AF2 Leagues. In 2007, Chris was the 2007 Spalding Rookie of the Year for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers of AF2. He is currently a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Maryland.
Royal enjoys boxing as a means of staying in shape. He also enjoys bowling, shooting pool, playing golf and basketball, and going to the movies.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Second-round pick (42) by Denver, April 26, 2008...signed July 24...contract expired March 13, 2012...signed with Chargers, March 16.
2014: Key catches during touchdown drives in 30-21 win vs. Seattle Sept. 14...on second-quarter drive that gave Bolts 20-7 lead, set up score with 15-yard catch to eight on 2nd-and-23 play...then later on touchdown drive that gave Chargers 27-14 lead, had 16-yard catch to Seattle 27 on 3rd-and-9 play...two touchdown catches (3 and 5 yards) to help lead Chargers to 22-10 win over Buffalo Sept. 21...scored TDs on opening drives of first and third quarters...23-yard catch on 3rd-and-9 play also helped sustain second quarter field goal drive...two touchdown catches in second quarter Sept. 28 vs. Jacksonville were third and fourth in two games...first (47 yards) was longest TD catch since Nov. 30, 2008 for Denver at New York Jets (59 yards)...second covered 43 yards on 3rdand-10 as he became first Chargers wide receiver with two touchdown catches of 43 yards-or-longer in game since Jeff Graham Nov. 19, 2000 at Denver...finished Jacksonville game with five catches for 105 yards, fifth-career 100-yard game and first since Oct. 3, 2010 (Denver at Tennessee)...eight-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 during opening series of Oct. 5 win vs. New York Jets helped kickstart touchdown drive for 7-0 lead...scored Chargers’ first touchdown of game on 29-yard third-down catch Oct. 12 at Oakland...later had 20-yard catch on 3rd-and-11, but injured rib on play and did not return...300th-career catch on first offensive play Oct. 23 at Denver...game-winning one-yard touchdown catch with 38 seconds remaining to give Bolts 34-33 victory at Baltimore Nov. 30... season-high nine catches vs. Ravens...set up second quarter field goal Dec. 14 vs. Denver with 58-yard punt return, third-longest of his career and Chargers’ longest since 2012...led team with 10 catches for 92 yards, had two huge fourth-down catches, and caught 15-yard touchdown pass in second quarter of 38-35 overtime win at San Francisco Dec. 20...had 20-yard catch on 4th-and-6 during third quarter touchdown drive...late in fourth quarter, had 17-yard catch on 4th-and-8 play during game-tying touchdown drive...led team with 95 yards on four catches, including grabs of 30 and 44 yards, Dec. 28 at Kansas City...44-yarder to Chiefs’ one help set up team’s lone touchdown of game.
2013: Six and one-yard touchdown catches Sept. 9 vs. Houston...surpassed 5,000-career all-purpose yards during Texans’ game...single-game, careerhigh three TD catches in 33-30 win at Philadelphia Sept. 15...third touchdown gave Bolts 30-27 lead with 3:11 remaining...scored second on 3rd-and-10 while also converting 3rd-and-7 for 21 yards on same drive...career-high sixth touchdown catch of season (27 yards) and 250th catch of career during 24-6 win at Jacksonville Oct. 20...during TD drive, also caught 29-yard pass that put quarterback Philip Rivers over 30,000 yards for his career...season-long 54 yard catch, longest since 2008, helped set up third-quarter TD in 41-38 win at Kansas City Nov. 24...six-yard TD catch brought Chargers to within three points early in fourth quarter of Dec. 29 overtime win vs. Chiefs that put Bolts into playoffs...33-yard catch, team’s longest of game, set up touchdown in Jan. 5 wild card playoff win at Cincinnati.
2012: First touchdown catch of season (4 yards) to give Bolts 7-0 lead during Sept. 30 win at Kansas City...season-long 31-yard catch on 3rd-and-7 helped set up field goal in Dec. 30 season-ending win vs. Oakland.
2011: Injured groin Sept. 18 vs. Cincinnati and inactive next three games... caught 26-yard touchdown pass and returned punt career-long 85 yards for touchdown in 50th career game, 38-24 win at Oakland Nov. 6...second Bronco to return punt and catch touchdown in same game...30-yard touchdown catch in first playoff game Jan. 8 vs. Pittsburgh.
2010: Sixth in NFL with 11.9-yard punt return average...eight catches for season-high 113 yards and touchdown Oct. 3 at Tennessee, including season-long 41-yard catch.
2009: Set Denver record for receptions through player's first two years (128) while totaling second-most receiving yards (1,325) during span...10 catches Oct. 11 vs. New England to tie as third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 100 career receptions ...AFC Special Teams Player of Week and AFC Special Teams Player of Month (October) after becoming 11th player in NFL history to return punt (71 yds.) and kickoff (93 yds.) for touchdown in same game, Oct. 19 at San Diego... kickoff return was fifth longest in Broncos' history.
2008: All-Rookie pick by Pro Football Weekly/PFWA and The Sporting News...sixth in NFL with 1,829 combined yards, most among rookies in '08 and third-most by Broncos rookie...seventh in league in kickoff return average (26.1 yds.)... made five plays of at least 50 yards...had team's longest punt return of season (36 yards) Sept. 28 at Kansas City, along with longest kickoff return of season (95 yards) Nov. 2 vs. Miami, longest catch of season (93-yard touchdown) Nov. 6 at Cleveland and longest run of season (71 yards) Dec. 21 vs. Buffalo...95-yard kickoff return vs. Dolphins tied for third-longest in team history...Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of Week after nine catches for 146 yards and touchdown in Sept. 8 NFL debut at Oakland...was sixth-most receiving yards by player in debut game since 1960...game-winning two-point conversion following four-yard touchdown catch with 24 seconds left in game Sept. 14 vs. Chargers...inactive Oct. 12 vs. Jacksonville (ankle)...Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of Week after 164-yard effort at Cleveland Nov. 6, including 93-yard TD catch...added 74 return yards for 238 total yards from scrimmage vs. Browns...set Broncos rookie record with 11 catches in Dec. 28 season finale at San Diego.
COLLEGE: First-team All-ACC as senior...second-team All-ACC and Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-America as junior...school-record 4,686 all-purpose yards (1,778 receiving, 1,386 kickoff returns, 1,296 punt returns, 226 rushing)...set ACC punt return record...left school ranked fourth in receptions (119), fifth in receiving touchdowns (12) and sixth in receiving yards (1,778)...scored 16 career touchdowns: 12 on catches, three on returns and one rushing...also threw TD pass...played in 51 career games with 44 starts...played at Virginia Tech from 2004-07...degree in sociology.
PERSONAL: Born in Alexandria, Va....All-America and all-state receiver and return specialist at Westfield High in Chantilly, Va....led school to 14-0 record and Group AAA Division 6 championship as senior...10 career return touchdowns.