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Courtland Sutton crosses 1,000-yard mark as breakout season continues

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the fourth quarter wound down during Sunday's loss to Kansas City, Drew Lock looked to his left and fired a pass to Courtland Sutton, who ran a comeback route.

Sutton spun off the defender and raced downfield for 27 yards.

When he pulled himself off the snowy grass at Arrowhead, Sutton had more than his second reception of more than 25 yards in Sunday's game. He had also crossed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season.

Sutton is just the third player in franchise history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season before the end of his second year. He's also the first Broncos player to hit the mark since Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both recorded more than 1,000 yards in 2016.

"I just think he's grown right from the start," said Head Coach Vic Fangio of Sutton on Monday. "I'm thinking back to OTAs. He's grown from there. Kept growing in training camp. He's grown throughout the season. Hasn't hit a lull. Just keeps going. He's a competitor, and with his talent coupled with his competitiveness, he should keep improving."

Sutton is tied for fourth in the AFC in receiving yards and ranks ninth in the league in yards per reception.

He has far surpassed his rookie totals of 42 catches for 704 yards and four touchdowns, as he's caught 63 passes for 1,019 yards and six touchdowns on the season. The second-year player has caught at least four passes in all but two of his games this season.

Sutton will soon find out if he will make his first Pro Bowl appearance, as the rosters will be announced on Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT on NFL Network.

'HE'S BEEN A POSITIVE INFLUENCE'

After Sunday's loss, Von Miller stepped to the podium and said he was "lost for words."

"It's more than just winning and losing," Miller said after the team's ninth consecutive loss to the Chiefs. "It defeats my soul to go out there and play the way we play and lose the way we lose."

The Broncos were eliminated from postseason contention for the fourth year in a row after Sunday's loss.

"I just think he's [frustrated with] losing to those guys again and he's been here the last four years now [and there] hasn't been a winning season," Fangio said when asked about Miller's comments. "But he's been a positive influence and a positive part of this team. That will continue. I just think it's more frustration."

Fangio said he didn't think he and Miller were "not on the same page," but he said he'll talk to Miller. He clarified that he speaks with Miller every week.

Despite the team's ninth loss, Fangio said he thinks the Broncos are trending in the right direction.

"I think so," Fangio said. "It's hard to claim that with the season the way it's gone, but I do believe that."

INJURY UPDATE

The Broncos are still "working through" whether tackle Ja'Wuan James will play against the Lions or if he will go to injured reserve, Fangio said

James met with Fangio last week about his left knee injury that has kept him out of all but three games. James last played in the first half of the team's Week 14 game in Houston. The team then held him out of the second half as part of a predetermined set of reps. James did not practice last week and missed Sunday's game in Kansas City.

He initially suffered the injury in Week 1 in Oakland.

"I don't think he feels that it's 100 percent right now," Fangio said of James. "He's a little leery right now."

Tight end Noah Fant, though, should be OK after suffering a shoulder injury in Kansas City.

"I think he'll be fine," Fangio said.

Fant, who battled hip and foot injuries ahead of the team's game against the Chiefs, leads all rookie tight ends in receptions and receiving yards.

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