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Trio of deep Keenum throws showcases Broncos' offensive potential

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In quick succession Sunday, Case Keenum fired off a trio of deep throws.

First he found rookie DaeSean Hamilton down the left side in traffic for a gain of more than 20 yards.

Demaryius Thomas got in on the action next, as he extended with both hands and then dragged his feet for a sideline completion.

But Emmanuel Sanders may have outdone them both when he raced across the field and somehow put himself in position to snag Keenum's pass with one hand.

Sunday's practice wasn't perfect by any means.

Keenum and the offense had their hiccups at times, and it's clear there is more work for the unit to accomplish before it faces Seattle on Sept. 9.

But those three throws did illustrate the potential the new offense could showcase against the Seahawks and beyond.

That — perhaps more so than a slew of accurate, short completions Keenum piled up Saturday — provides a reason to be excited about Denver's offensive potential.

And it also fixes a glaring need from last season.

Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and DaeSean Hamilton all got in on the fun on Sunday during the second day of Broncos training camp. Each player made a big catch — and those weren't the only exciting moments at UCHealth Training Center.

While the Broncos finished ninth in the NFL in pass completions of 20 yards or more, the team finished dead last in deadly explosive plays of 40 or more yards.

The Detroit Lions led the league in that type of play with 16; Denver had just three.

A revamped attack could work wonders. If Denver can flip that script and capitalize on more long completions, the short passing game, play-action passing game and run game should all flourish.

"It's going to mean a win," Sanders said Sunday. "It's trying to place those explosive players. That's what we need. You've got to be able to execute. We know that we're going to have a good defense. Offensively, we can pick it up or we can carry our own weight and just keep flying under the radar, which I like. I feel like we're going to be all right."

Should Keenum and his receivers find a way to connect on some of those long plays, it would go a long way toward keeping the receivers satisfied.

If that means being a little selfish along the way, that's fine with Head Coach Vance Joseph.

"It's fun to see those guys make plays down the field," Joseph said. "For a receiver, they want to make plays—'10' [Sanders] especially. He wants the ball every play. He wants to make big plays, and that's a good thing. I want those guys to be a little selfish when it comes to that."

When Sanders heard that comment Sunday, he responded with a smile.

"As long as I'm touching the ball, it keeps me happy," Sanders said. "So right now, I'm touching the ball and having fun out there."

So far, Keenum seems to be doing his part to make sure that continues.

And while Sanders and the receivers will have plenty of questions to answer during the remainder of training camp and the preseason, they no longer face the onslaught of quarterback-related queries.

"We got our quarterback," Sanders said. "That's one question that we can check off. We got our quarterback. And it's all about putting that work in when we've got a guy that's the leader of this football team and who wants to be the leader of this team. He's a veteran quarterback and he's out there making all off the — I'm not going to say all of the right reads — but he's making the right reads for sure.

"He's spreading the ball around and it's fun."

If the long completions continue, the fun shouldn't stop any time soon.

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