ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --For the first time since 2015, the Broncos will go into OTAs knowing who their starting quarterback will be. For Emmanuel Sanders, that makes all the difference -- whether he's running routes against air in Phase 2 of offseason work or he's answering questions about where the team stands.
"I appreciate it, for sure," Sanders said Wednesday. "This is the first time in two or three years that I'm not standing up here talking about a quarterback debate."
In 2016, Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch rotated through OTA snaps. A year later, Siemian and Lynch split the repetitions. Without an obvious starter each offseason, the opportunities to build cohesion were limited.
"You can sit back and say we're all professional football players and you've got to deal with that situation, but at the same time, obviously you can't gain the same chemistry. You don't have the same mindset. You have to talk to two different quarterbacks," Sanders said.
Ready to put in place the physical foundation for the upcoming season, the Broncos got back in the weight room as a team on Tuesday. (Photos by Gabriel Christus)
"When you're going into individual routes, you have to go to one guy and then go with the next guy. You don't really gain that chemistry. You're not maximizing the opportunity. Now we're maximizing the opportunity, and hopefully it pays off."
The work involved with that is ongoing, and Sanders admitted that this year's session have a "different feel" than last year's.
"I can see it in guys just trying to get in shape and trying to get their conditioning up," Sanders said. "When guys are messing up, guys are going back and getting seconds. It has that 2014 feel where guys are flying all over the field and want to be good and want to be successful."
The opportunities to work are still limited by league rules. During the current phase of offseason work, players can be at the facility four hours each day, and they can't face a defense or do one-on-one work until Phase 3 begins in just under three weeks.
For now, Keenum and his receivers can work on their timing. So far, so good.
"Every single pass that he's thrown so far -- I wouldn't say everu single one, but a majority of the passes, 95 percent or 98 percent -- have been there," Sanders said.
"He's confident in himself. He's one of those guys that when he steps into the huddle, he's that leader. You don't have to second guess what his thought process is. We're going to complete this ball. We're going to keep the ball moving. I'm liking what I'm seeing from him so far."
And Sanders likes what he's seeing elsewhere as a result of Keenum's arrival.
"I remember when I got out here, I went out to the team store and I saw Case Keenum jerseys. I was like, 'Thank God I don't have to deal with that again,'" Sanders said.
"Case is our guy. We can go from there. We can work our butts off, try to gain chemistry and try to put up points."