ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Courtland Sutton prepares for his first season in Head Coach Sean Payton's offense, he's studied one of Payton's most prolific receivers.
Sutton said Thursday that he downloaded clips from Saints receiver Michael Thomas' standout season in 2019, when the Ohio State product caught a then-NFL record 149 passes for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. Thomas averaged 107.8 yards and more than nine catches a game as he set a new NFL reception mark.
"It's interesting, I actual just got — not too long ago, maybe a week or two ago — I just got Michael Thomas' 2019 targets from his year that he broke the record," Sutton said. "[I'm] just diving into it [to] be able to see how he may have run a route that we are learning right now. Figuring out ways to get open."
While Thomas' 2019 production was outlandish and will be highly difficult to replicate, Sutton said he's looking to add traits from Thomas' game to his own.
"Obviously he had a really good year that year, so to be able to find ways to implement the things he did well into my game, I feel like we'll be able to have a lot of success," Sutton said.
At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, Sutton has a comparable stature to the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Thomas. If the 2019 Pro Bowler can add elements of the 2019 first-team All-Pro's game, he could break the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since his sophomore outing.
Sutton will aim to find that success after an offseason in which his name was mentioned in several trade rumors. After each report, both Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager George Paton emphasized that Sutton would remain with the Broncos.
"It's flattering that other teams see me as a guy that can come in and be a guy for them," Sutton said. "I love that I'm here. This is ultimately, you guys know, where I want to be at. This is home."
'A BIG PART OF WHAT WE DO'
The best could still be ahead for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
A year ago, the 2020 15th-overall pick posted his most productive season as a pro, recording a career-high 67 catches for 972 yards and six touchdowns.
The Alabama product reached those totals behind a late surge, as he recorded at least five catches in each of his final five games. In four of those five games, he notched at least 70 receiving yards — and he scored three touchdowns in an eight-catch performance against the Chiefs.
In his final appearance of the season, Jeudy caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards in a Week 18 win over the Chargers. Head Coach Sean Payton, who watched Jeudy from afar before arriving in Denver, hopes to see more of Jeudy's best.
"He's explosive," Payton said Thursday. "I remember him coming out [of college] and certainly seeing film of him playing. Now, having a chance to work directly with him, he's very explosive. He's got extremely loose hips, which allows him to transition well. There're the nuances of the game, relative to landmarks, and the exactness of the passing game. All of those things, he's been really eager to learn. I enjoy working with him. I told him, 'Hey, I'm going to be on you, and we're going to get the most out of you.' He's continued to get stronger. Couple times, he's catching the ball with his pinkies together instead of his thumbs together.
"We'll correct some of that, but he's someone that certainly will be a big part of what we do."