ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Practice is nice, and make no mistake the Denver Broncos certainly have enjoyed what they've seen from wide receiver Cody Latimer in practice this spring and summer.
But now, they'd like to see the next step taken by the second-round pick from the 2014 draft.
"You just want to see him making plays," said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak this week. "He's a hard worker. He does the right thing. He's in the right place, but it's time for him to start making plays on the ball, coming up with big plays. The good news with him is he has worked as basically a starter from OTAs through [training] camp and everything. Everything's in place for Cody to grow up and have a big year. I like the way he works, [he] just needs to keep coming."
With Demaryius Thomas having skipped the team's offseason program during the negotiations on his long-term deal signed in July and Emmanuel Sanders' hamstring injury that has limited Sanders for most of the Broncos' August work, Latimer has essentially worked in the starting offense since May. Latimer was also one of the players cited by Kubiak, shortly after Kubiak was hired in January, as a potential breakout player. As one of a collection of players who were not much of a factor in 2014, Kubiak would want, and expect, more from this time around.
Thus far, Latimer has flashed at times in two preseason outings, but he has just five catches in the two games combined -- tied with Bennie Fowler for second on the team. He doesn't have a touchdown catch and his longest play is a 19-yard catch on a throw from Brock Osweiler late in the first quarter of the preseason opener in Seattle.
"He's just explosive," Thomas said. "He makes big catches all the time in practice and I think he will make those in games. He's better at getting off the press [coverage] and getting into his routes. That's the difference for guys and he's going to make some big plays for us."
Latimer will play with the starters Saturday night -- Sanders will not play, but quarterback Peyton Manning and Thomas will -- as the Broncos' regulars are expected to play at least a half in the game. With the Broncos' starters, including Osweiler at quarterback in the preseason opener, having manufactured one touchdown in the two previous games, the Broncos would like to see a little more impact on offense against the 49ers.
Latimer likely wouldn't play in next Thursday's preseason finale, so he's included on that list as well.
"I feel more confident than last year, last it was just stressful sometimes," Latimer said. "I felt like I was worried about messing up too much. I know I just need to play, just need to make some plays. I want to show them too, but I think if I just keep playing fast, get in the right spots, it's going to happen. But I want to see more, too."