Courtland Sutton hasn't been the star of training camp like he was last year with a daily diet of highlight reel catches on deep fade routes, and the Denver Broncos are glad about that.
Sutton is working on becoming an all-around receiving threat in Rich Scangarello's new offense, so he's running all the intermediate routes, not just the deep posts where he'd leap over DBs for impressive catches.
“This offseason that was one big thing I wanted to work on, was being able to run every route on the route tree,” Sutton said, adding he doesn't want to “just be a guy that's known for going deep on the outside.
“That's still something I have in my arsenal, but I want to be able to run all those routes so that it can set up those big-shot plays.”
So, the spectacular has been replaced by the steady this summer.
Sutton said coach Vic Fangio “is attacking practice in a different way. A lot of those 50-50 balls you all saw came in one-on-ones. Right now, coach knows that's something that I have in my arsenal. It's like, Why keep feeding that horse? Add something to the game, don't just be a one-trick pony.'”
Sutton is fine with the extra workload and the reduction in oohs and ahhs from the crowd because he's certain it will pay dividends this season.
“Being able to run more routes, that's the biggest thing. Being able to run more routes and not just being a guy where they are like, `Oh, 14 is in, he's able to go deep,'” Sutton said. “You probably won't hear too many DBs saying that. I can get in and out of any route and that's one thing I'm just really trying to incorporate into my game.”
Receivers coach Zach Azzanni has been riding Sutton to disguise his intentions because film from his rookie season showed he sometimes tipped off what was coming.
Safety Justin Simmons said he can testify to Sutton's growth this year.
“It's true. He's running digs, he's running outs, he's running comebacks,” Sutton said. “He's still running his deep routes, but last year it just felt like fade after fade after fade and he just kept snagging them down.
“It's going to be great for us.”
Sutton hasn't been immune to the drops that have plagued Denver's young receiving corps this summer as veteran Emmanuel Sanders slowly works his way back from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Last week, Fangio said he's more of a swift kick kind of guy, not a pat-'em-on-the-back sort when it comes to encouraging corrections from his players.
“I kind of ride him and tease him a little bit,” Fangio said. “So, I'll take advantage of that.”
Fangio said, however, that he didn't get the chance to razz Sutton.
“He was ducking me yesterday a little bit,” Fangio said. “I relied on you guys to get the word to him, the little teasing.”
That's one message Sutton didn't need to hear.
“As soon as it hits our hands and hits the ground, we know that it is unacceptable,” Sutton said. “We don't want to drop it. It's not like we go out there like, `I'm going to drop this pass.' So, when we hear everybody saying, `Oh, that's unacceptable,' we already know that. Thank you for reminding us.”
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