A day at Emmanuel Sanders' youth football camp at Northglenn High School on July 11. (photos by Ben Swanson)
NORTHGLENN, Colo. —In just over two weeks, rookie wide receivers Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie will begin their first Broncos training camp amid sky-high expectations.
The two players, who were drafted in April's 2017 NFL Draft, are expected to help jolt the Broncos offense back into form.
But the adjustment from the collegiate level to the NFL game won't be without its challenges.
That's why two-time Pro Bowler Emmanuel Sanders had some advice to offer the pair of players.
"Just relax," said Sanders from his youth football camp Tuesday. "Obviously, don't go in there thinking that you're going to know it all, because you're not going to know it all. Don't go in there thinking that you're not going to make a mistake, because you're going to make a mistake.
"There's going to be fans out there, but stay focused. Stay locked and loaded on your job, your task at hand, and you'll be fine. Coach Vance [Joseph] used to tell us in OTAs: 'If you're a rookie, just come in and be quiet. Just keep your mouth closed, keep your head down and just work.' That's some advice for sure that I'd give them."
Seven years ago, Sanders began his own NFL journey with the Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
The third-round pick also arrived to high expectations, and he contributed in 13 games on both offense and special teams.
His experience that August, however, was a fair bit different than the one that awaits the Broncos' current rookies.
"Back in my day … I'm talking like I'm old," Sanders said. "Back in my day, we had two-a-days. We had two practices. Right now, we have two-a-days, but you practice in the morning with pads and the afternoon you have a little jog-through.
"When I was a rookie, you practiced with full pads in the morning, you practiced with full pads in the afternoon, and that was strenuous. That was tough. And [I was] playing special teams. And I came in and I was the No. 3 [receiver], so I was going both ways. It was a tough rookie training camp for me, but I prevailed.
"I got through it, and it made me the player I am today."
So, too, will Henderson and McKenzie. And the road will be a little easier should they follow Sanders' advice.