As wide receiver Jerry Jeudy aims to return to the field this weekend after missing the last six games with an ankle injury, he and WR Courtland Sutton will hope to provide the Broncos offense with a much-needed spark.
Denver's offense has struggled to create big plays and convert first downs at times, but getting Jeudy back in the lineup should be a big help for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"[Jeudy] just brings a different dynamic," Sutton said.
Jeudy had an exceptional training camp and preseason, and he was projected by many to have a breakout season in 2021 before he was injured in Week 1 vs. the Giants. Jeudy, who is one of the league's best route-runners, will provide another explosive receiving option for Bridgewater when he returns.
"In Jeudy, the Broncos are adding a player into the game plan who had six catches for 72 yards in just over a half in his only game of the season, showing the kind of explosive play-making ability teammates and coaches raved about during training camp," The Athletic's Nick Kosmider wrote.
Jeudy's return will also mark one of the first times the Broncos have their intended one-two punch at WR on the field together.
"The Broncos are hopeful the next 10 games will provide their first significant evaluation of Jeudy and Sutton as a wide receiver duo," Kosmider wrote. "They played only one half together during Jeudy's rookie year in 2020 before Sutton suffered the ACL injury. Jeudy's ankle injury in the third quarter of the season opener against the Giants this year further delayed that on-field partnership."
Sutton, who missed the bulk of 2020 with an ACL injury, has been the No. 1 receiver for Denver in Jeudy's absence. Sutton has hauled in 38 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns through Week 7. He has been a crucial part of Denver's offense, with 26 first downs (tied for seventh among all WRS), according to Pro Football Focus. He has also been the Broncos' top downfield option, with an average depth of 16.9 yards per target (fourth among all WRs).
The tandem of Sutton and Jeudy has been touted as one of the best potential WR duos in the NFL, and this Sunday may mark their first opportunity to show what they can do together. For a team that needs a jump start on offense, Jeudy's return could not come at a better time. And Jeudy's quarterback, Bridgewater, can't wait to have one of his top weapons back on the field with him.
"He'll be very helpful with just his ability to win," Bridgewater said. "I would say his deceptiveness in his route running, that stands out. It'll open some things up for everyone in this offense, having a guy like Jerry back. We're excited that he's going to be out there."
Below the Fold
While outside linebacker Bradley Chubb continues to recover from an ankle injury on injured reserve, Von Miller and Jonathon Cooper continue to be some of the best outside linebackers in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Miller, who returned this season after missing the duration of 2020 with an ankle injury, exploded for four sacks in the first three games of the season. While the defense has faltered in the last stretch of games, Miller has remained at the top of the pack at his position.
Through the first seven weeks of the season, Miller boasts an 83.0 rush grade from Pro Football Focus (the third-highest grade at his position). Miller also has an 85.6 overall grade from PFF (seventh among edge defenders) and has racked up 28 total pressures (11th at his position).
Miller isn't the only pass rusher performing well in Denver — rookie OLB Jonathon Cooper has quietly had an excellent season as well.
When Miller exited the game against Cleveland with an injury, Cooper stepped in and turned up the pressure on Browns QB Case Keenum, recording three QB hits. Cooper also had five tackles in the matchup.
Cooper's performance echoed his strong preseason campaign, in which the sixth-round pick repeatedly demonstrated his big-play potential. Cooper's game vs. the Browns earned him a spot on PFF’s Week 7 team of the week.
Through seven weeks, Cooper has a 73.3 overall grade from PFF, the second-highest grade among rookie defensive linemen.