DENVER -- As he stays late each day to wrestle with the Denver Broncos’ voluminous playbook, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has consistently said a little more of everything the team can do on offense becomes clearer with each passing practice.
After all, he saw what the Broncos’ record setting 606-point offense looked like from the outside last season. And when he signed with the Broncos in free agency he called it “wide receiver heaven,’’ as he prepared to see it up close and personel.
So with OTAs, with minicamp and the start of training camp, Sanders has had a little more revealed with each step. And Saturday, in the team’s annual summer scrimmage at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Sanders said the curtain was pulled back even a little more.
“When I was out there, I finally got a glimpse of how this offense is,’’ Sanders said. “Up-tempo, you’re moving the ball. It’s fun, you’re making guys miss. I was like, ‘Wow, this is fun.’’’
The starting offense worked for 14 plays against the team’s No. 2 defense. And while offensive coordinator Adam Gase didn’t crank things up all the way to warp speed, the Broncos’ regulars played with their characteristically high tempo with Peyton Manning throwing on 10 of the 14 plays.
Sanders had two catches for 23 yards in the scrimmage, and Manning narrowly over-threw a diving Sanders for what would have been a touchdown if Sanders would have been able to reel it in on the starting offense’s last play from scrimmage of the day.
“Today was a great day offensively,’’ Sanders said.
Sanders has consistently worked with Manning after practice each day, in OTAs, minicamp and through training camp thus far, often with rookie Cody Latimer alongside. With his ability to play both outside and in the slot with proficiency, the Broncos want Sanders up to speed to be able to work at any speed the team’s offense wants to go.
On Saturday, Sanders was the starter on the outside with Demaryius Thomas, when the team had two wide receivers in the formation. And when the Broncos went three wide it was Sanders, Thomas and Wes Welker. But with Sanders, Welker and tight end Julius Thomas in the lineup, the Broncos can work impact pass-catchers out of the slot on both sides of the formation.
And they can limit the defensive backs’ ability to jam their receivers at the line of scrimmage by bunching them together. It was Sanders’ versatility as well as his ability to get away from bump coverage that intrigued the Broncos' decision-makers in the first place.
“Emmanuel has come in and worked really hard," Manning said. "He is a guy that stays after practice every day, he is trying to improve his craft and he’s trying to help the young guys. … A veteran player with that kind of work ethic, I am excited about playing with him this year.’’
On the day Manning was 7-of-10 for 107 yards with a scoring pass to tight end Jacob Tamme.