ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders absent from Monday's OTA practice, Thunder and Lighting Lite got their chance to take a leading role.
Wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton practiced with the first-team offense, and the rookies' performances impressed their head coach.
"Yeah, so far, so good with those two guys," Vance Joseph said. "[No.] 14 and [No.] 17 are very mature football players. And obviously, [since Thomas and Sanders] missed [practice], they're pushed up to the first team, and we didn't miss a beat. That's what you want.
"You want guys in each room who can play as a starter. So I was very pleased with those two guys today."
Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave hinted Thursday that Sutton and Hamilton — drafted in the second round and fourth round, respectively — could make early impacts on offense.
Monday's practice only seemed to reinforce that notion, and both players were eager not to waste the chance in front of them.
"I appreciated the opportunity [and] tried to make the most of it," Hamilton said. "I really just tried to do the best that I possibly could and tried to make sure there was no drop off with those guys not being here. And [I am] just taking on the responsibility of being ahead of the installs and making sure I know everything so I'm able to go out there and play fast."
Sutton, who said he's focusing on being "the best version" of himself rather than look at the big picture, relished the opportunity to face off against Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby and the rest of Denver's secondary.
"I love going against them," Sutton said. "Iron sharpens iron, and everybody knows that. To be able to go against them as a rookie … that's awesome. It's only going to make me better whenever I get to get those reps. Those are obviously two guys that are at the top of their game at their position, so to be able to go against them every day in practice, that's something that I look forward to."
On several of those days, both Sutton and Hamilton have made highlight-reel catches. And Sutton's, more often than not, have been of the one-handed variety.
"That's his specialty," Hamilton said. "He's obviously one of those guys that has a crazy catch radius. I'm trying to match that as much as I possibly can, but he's been out here, he's been making plays.
"That just goes along with us being able to come out here and play a lot faster and be confident and really just be comfortable with what we're doing and then letting our natural, God-given ability take over."
That process has just begun, but that talent is already shining through.