Editor’s note: The sixth in a series previewing each Broncos position group entering the start of training camp on Tuesday.
During last year’s training camp, Courtland Sutton was not only the Broncos’ best receiver, he was their best offensive player.
Sutton opened on a shallow cross, caught the pass fought in the red zone and showed his normal downfield play. A repeat of his breakout 2019 (1,112 yards and a Pro Bowl selection) was anticipated.
But before the end of Week 2, Sutton was gone for the season, tearing his ACL in his 20th snap at Pittsburgh.
Months of rehab complete, Sutton is back knowing he’ll be a free agent after season one. He was limited to individual drill work during the off-season schedule and it is likely that he will manage his work with the goal of getting ready for the September 12 opener at the New York Giants next month.
“We missed him not having him last year,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “Sure, her coming back is going to be huge.”
Jerry Judy and KJ Hamler move into their second season and Tim Patrick will be just as big if Mr. Steady remains.
who is behind
cortland sutton (Second Round 2018), Jerry Judy (first round ’20), KJ Hamler (2nd round ’20), Tim Patrick (free agent ’17), tyrie cleveland (seventh round ’20), dionte spencer (exempt ’19), Trinity Benson (draft free agent ’19) and Kendall Hinton (Adraft Free Agent ’20).
Plus for Judy: He went up against the No. 1 cornerback after Sutton was injured, a total of 52 catches for a team-high 856 yards, and would be better off because of that experience. Minus for Judy: He was booked for 10 drop passes, but came five in one game (week 16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers). Watch him use his precise root-running skills to defeat 2-3 cornerbacks.
Hamler is a tease. When he is healthy, he gives Shurmur all kinds of options, lines him everywhere from the slot to the backfield. But Hamler needs to remain available. Hamstring injuries stalled the progress of his 2020 debut and also kept him off the field during this summer’s off-season schedule.
Patrick is playing for his next contract, be it here or somewhere else. He had no drop passes last year and led the Broncos with six touchdown catches.
Spencer is expected to make the team as the sixth receiver but is active on Sunday as he is the primary returner.
Seth Williams (seventh round), devontress deux (draft free agent), Warren Jackson (draft free agent), Brandon Mack (draft free agent), Amara Darboh (free agent) and D’Morne Pearson-Alley (free agent).
It is possible that none of these players make it to the initial 53-man roster.
Williams (6-foot-3/211 pounds) is a developmental player who may be ticketed to the practice squad and then challenged to the next year’s backup receiver/special teams representative. He averaged 16.2 yards per catch last year for Auburn.
Jackson starred at Colorado State, making a total of 124 catches for 1,789 yards and 14 touchdowns in 33 games.
who is gone
Descene Hamilton (non-football injury) and Fred Brown (Tennessee).
Sutton and JuD are so good they will produce whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Locke at quarterback in Week 1.
The Broncos should be better downfield. His 49 catches for at least 20 yards ranks 16th in the NFL, but according to Stats, his passer rating of 48.9 on at least 21 air yard attempts is the second-worst in the league (Cincinnati 48.4) and well below an average of 101.3. was.
Sutton is an outside receiver who will attract the attention of the safety and one idea is to use JuD in slots on the same side of the formation to place him in the middle of the field.
number of notes
At least 20 yards caught in 2019 by Cortland Sutton, tied for the eighth-most in the NFL.
Thursday: defensive back.