New quarterback Joe Flacco is excited about the prospect of working with Sutton, Michael Spencer of CBS Denver.com reports. There's still a lot to shake out between now and the beginning of the season, including whether Denver takes a quarterback early in the draft. As it stands, there is a solid chance that Flacco takes all the snaps in Mile High and Sutton emerges as his favorite target. Despite his big size and arm, Flacco is more a play-it-safe quarterback, ranking sixth in the league last season in interception percentage. However, had he played the entire season, he would have still been on track to tie the departed Case Keenum for 11th in the league with 52 passes of 20 or more yards. Sutton specialized in the deep ball as a rookie, and, whether or not Flacco chucks it, his arm should put enough fear in secondaries to buy Sutton a little bit more room underneath.
Sutton ended 2018 with 42 catches, 704 yards and four touchdowns off of 84 targets. He lost a yard on his lone carry of the year. Dubbed as Demaryius Thomas' eventual successor after being drafted in the second round, Sutton took on that role earlier than expected following Thomas' mid-season trade to Houston. The results were mixed. Sutton ended up finishing seventh in the league in yards per catch at 16.8, illustrating the big-play ability that led Denver to place a first-round grade on him. He struggled down the stretch, however, following the season-ending Achilles' injury to Emmanuel Sanders. Sutton averaged just 10.4 yards per reception and 14.0 receptions per touchdown in the season's final four games as defenses were able to key on keeping the wideout in front of them. He had averaged 19.9 yards per catch and 9.3 receptions per touchdown prior to Sanders' injury. The next step in Sutton's development will be going from feasting on No. 2 and 3 corners to being able to beat opponents' top covermen. That job will be a lot easier if Sanders is able to return to form or fellow young targets Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton take steps in their development.
Sutton caught six of his 10 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown in Monday night's 27-14 loss to the Raiders. Sutton caught a 19-yard fourth-quarter touchdown after Case Keenum scrambled for what seemed like an eternity to keep the play, and the Broncos' hopes of winning, alive. Unfortunately, the pair had trouble connecting on anything significant much of the rest of the evening. Still, Sutton saw a season high in both targets and catches while tallying his fourth touchdown of the year. His much-anticipated breakout may yet happen with one game remaining in the regular season at home against the Chargers in Week 17.
Sutton (quadriceps) is not listed on the Broncos' injury report heading into Monday's contest. Sutton managed to put together a full practice Saturday, which likely led to the removal of the injury designation. The rookie wideout has seen at least six targets in the last two contests, but he's still been surpassed by the likes of DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick in numerous receiving categories over that stretch. The Broncos' offense as a whole should thrive against a morbid Raiders defense, which would likely lead to a plethora of red-zone opportunities for the 6-foot-3 rookie. However, the emergence of Hamilton and Patrick make using Sutton a risky proposition regardless of the matchup.
Sutton (quad) was limited at practice Thursday. Sutton started the Week 15 practice cycle with a missed session Tuesday, followed by a return to limited work Wednesday and a full practice Thursday. After not carrying an injury designation into this past Saturday's loss to the Browns, Sutton caught five of six targets for 42 yards, while seeing action on 86 percent of Denver's snaps on offense. With no setbacks reported afterward, we'll assume for now that Sutton's limitations Thursday were maintenance-related and that he's in line to play Monday night against the Raiders.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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