When Head Coach Vance Joseph talked in August about the potential of Cody Latimer being an "All-Pro gunner," it was games like Sunday that he foresaw in the fourth-year veteran.
"As a gunner, he was exceptional again," Joseph said Wednesday.
On Riley Dixon's first punt, Latimer started the play by facing a pair of Eagles at the left gunner position, from which he eventually worked his way inside. Latimer sprinted diagonally across the field, which placed him in perfect position to prevent punt returner Kenjon Barner from cutting right and into the open field.
Latimer and Justin Simmons then teamed up to make the tackle, holding Barner to a 2-yard return and getting a 46-yard net out of the punt.
Dixon's second punt saw Latimer get a free release in one-on-one blocking from the left flank, and he made Barner and the Eagles pay. He rocketed downfield at the snap, but with Dixon clobbering a 55-yard blast, he was still 8 yards away from Barner when he fielded the punt at the Philadelphia 17-yard line.
Coming from Barner's right, Latimer's pursuit forced the returner to go left. Latimer maintained his pursuit while Bennie Fowler III, who was the gunner from the other side, cut off Barner's path upfield. Latimer then dove to make the tackle after a 7-yard return, giving Dixon and the punt-coverage team a net of 48 yards on the punt.
Brendan Langley was the left-side gunner on Dixon's third punt, a 49-yarder that ended in a 4-yard Barner return and a Philadelphia penalty.
On the fourth punt, Latimer was back in the game and again capitalized on the presence of only one Eagle in front of him, sprinting past him to get in position to lunge at Barner right after he fielded the 52-yard punt. Latimer dove and missed, but caused Barner to stumble, buying a half-second for the rest of the Broncos' coverage team to arrive, ensuring a net of 44 yards.
Latimer's special-teams work was not limited to punt coverage, even though he did not handle kickoff returns. On Isaiah McKenzie's 44-yard return to set up a Brandon McManus field goal, Latimer turns back inside and delivers a key block on Corey Clement, helping clear the right flank for McKenzie to sprint into the open field.
All this is stacked on top of his career-high 51 receiving yards on two receptions. In the two games since he returned to the lineup from a knee injury, Latimer has the two highest single-game yardage totals of his career.
It is also notable that Latimer's single-game career-high for yardage and his first professional touchdown both came in games quarterbacked by Brock Osweiler. If Osweiler can do enough to stay in the lineup, Latimer could be a beneficiary.
"Cody's one of those guys, given his opportunities, he's certainly going to make the most of them," Osweiler said, "because he's a smart player, he's physical, he's strong, he's fast, he can jump."