As talented as Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are, it's important to realize there are probably going to be times when they face struggles as rookies.
That's just a natural part of the transition to the NFL. Since 2018, just six of the 17 receivers drafted in the first or second round of the NFL Draft eclipsed 600 receiving yards during their rookie season.
Courtland Sutton was one of those six, as he caught 42 passes for 704 yards in 2018. But even he had difficult stretches during his rookie year. During the final four games of the year, Sutton was the Broncos' No. 1 receiving threat, following the midseason trade of Demaryius Thomas and a Week 12 injury to Emmanuel Sanders. In his first game as the team's top option, he caught just two passes for 14 yards. Sutton averaged 3.5 catches for 36.5 yards during that four-game stretch.
Asked if he had any wisdom he could share for the rookies, Sutton began with something basic: Trust Wide Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni. But his second piece of advice was even more fundamental.
"Number two is just having fun," Sutton said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, this is still the same sport we've played since we were little. It's just guys are bigger, faster and stronger, as everyone knows. Once you understand the system and you're able to go out and just play ball, just have fun, that's when you start seeing the big plays and all these positive things start to happen because of the pure joy that this sport brings. Not making it harder than it is — I think that was one of the biggest things my rookie year. I put so much pressure on myself because I never wanted to disappoint Demaryius or Emmanuel. I put so much pressure on myself. I had fun, but there were times where I was so in my own head about not making a mistake. I was like 'Don't mess up. Don't mess up. Don't mess up,' instead of just going out there and having fun and playing the game the way I knew how to play the game."
Off the field, Sutton highlighted two more keys: managing their time as professionals and taking care of their bodies.
Why receivers may struggle as they begin their NFL careers may have to do with the schemes they play in and play against in college, Head Coach Vic Fangio said. However, he added that he thinks Jeudy's and Hamler's experience don't fall into that category.
"I think … receivers in college football by and large — not 100 percent — have it really easy in college football with the defenses they see and the offensive schemes they're in and what they're going against," Fangio said Tuesday. "I see too many wide receivers, when you're watching college tape, running wide open and not running NFL-type routes on a consistent basis. That's why it can be a slow process for some of them. Everybody progresses at a different rate. I think in Jerry's case, he's coming from an offense that should help him progress quicker based upon the work he puts in. I think the same thing with KJ."
Below the Fold
Even though Sutton is only entering his third season, he is the Broncos' leading veteran at the position. As The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider wrote, that leadership role will be extremely important with Jeudy and Hamler in the fold. "That experience for Sutton — from overthinking rookie to freewheeling second-year standout — is relevant for the Broncos because of the spot he suddenly finds himself within the team's fresh-faced wide receivers room," Kosmider wrote.
After a previous bout with COVID-19, Von Miller said Tuesday that he gave "serious consideration" to opting out of the 2020 season, as The Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran wrote. "I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play," Miller said. "The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out."
We don't yet know how many fans might be allowed at Empower Field at Mile High this fall, but what about other NFL stadiums? ESPN compiled the latest updates for each NFL team’s home in a recent article, and while almost every team seems to be planning on significantly reducing capacity, only a few are currently planning to not host any fans.