Broncos WR Preview: Courtland Sutton returns from ACL injury to lead young group of receivers

Editor’s note: Sixth in a series previewing each Broncos position group entering the start of training camp on Tuesday.

Throughout last year’s training camp, Courtland Sutton wasn’t just the Broncos’ best receiver, he was their best offensive player.

Sutton got open on shallow crosses, caught contested passes in the red zone and showed his usual downfield playmaking ability. 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 of the loss at Pittsburgh.

Months of rehabilitation complete, Sutton is back knowing he will be a free agent after the season. He was limited to individual drill work during the offseason program and it’s possible he will have his work managed next month with the goal of being ready for the Sept. 12 opener at the New York Giants.

Broncos preview

Running backs
Wide receivers
Offensive linemen
Defensive linemen

“We missed not having him last year,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “Certainly, having him back is going to be huge.”

Equally gigantic will be if Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler take steps forward in their second seasons and Tim Patrick continues to be Mr. Steady.

Who’s back

Courtland Sutton (second round 2018), Jerry Jeudy (first round ’20), KJ Hamler (second round ’20), Tim Patrick (free agent ’17), Tyrie Cleveland (seventh round ’20), Diontae Spencer (waivers ’19), Trinity Benson (undrafted free agent ’19) and Kendall Hinton (undrafted free agent ’20).

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The plus for Jeudy: He went against No. 1 cornerbacks after Sutton was injured, totaling 52 catches for a team-high 856 yards, and will be better because of that experience. The minus for Jeudy: He was booked for 10 dropped passes, but five came in one game (Week 16 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers). Look for him to use his precise route-running skills to beat Nos. 2-3 cornerbacks.

Hamler is a tease. When he’s healthy, he gives Shurmur all kinds of options, lining him up everywhere from the slot to the backfield. But Hamler needs to stay available. Hamstring injuries stunted his early-2020 progress and also kept him off the field during this summer’s offseason program.

Patrick is playing for his next contract, be it here or elsewhere. He had no dropped passes last year and led the Broncos with six touchdown catches.

Spencer is expected to make the team as the sixth receiver, but active on Sundays because he is the primary returner.

Who’s new

Seth Williams (seventh round), DeVontres Dukes (undrafted free agent), Warren Jackson (undrafted free agent), Branden Mack (undrafted free agent), Amara Darboh (free agent) and De’Mornay Pierson-El (free agent).

It’s likely none of these players make the initial 53-man roster.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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