ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- If there is an if-not-now-than-when player on the Denver Broncos' roster, it's wide receiver Cody Latimer. Latimer was a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, the 56th player selected, and had expectations to match.
However, Latimer has eight career receptions and one career touchdown over two seasons and there are lingering questions about confidence and his ability to find a role in the offense.
“But when you don’t know what you’re doing in football you get slow, when we first got here, to me, he was playing slow," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “He wasn’t showing his God-given talent, but now he’s starting to play faster."
As a result, Latimer finds himself at a crossroads at a time when the Broncos have plenty of playing time up for grabs at his position beyond Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The three, perhaps four, spots remaining on the depth chart and in the rotation are there for the taking for receivers who show initiative and production.
Latimer said this week, as the Broncos closed out their offseason program, he’s ready to be the player the Broncos thought he would be when they selected him as well as the player he believed he would be by now.
“I’m ready for a big step, from my rookie year, to last year and now to what I think I can do this year," Latimer said after Wednesday’s practice. “I just have a lot of confidence right now, I’m just ready to play, I feel like it’s time to make an impact."
Latimer dominated almost all contested pass situations during his college career at Indiana. When the Broncos drafted him, they saw a player with the size/speed combination to contribute immediately in scoring-zone situations.
But in Adam Gase’s offense, with Peyton Manning at quarterback, the Broncos played a high-speed attack that demanded receivers make plenty of decisions on the fly. So often Latimer would run one way, Manning would throw another and frustration would ensue.
Latimer's confidence seemed to waver , and when Kubiak arrived with a new offense last season, Latimer was back to Square 1. But the Broncos saw his continued efforts on special teams, and then Latimer gave a little glimpse of his potential when Sanders suffered an ankle injury and missed the Nov. 22 game against the Chicago Bears.
“Nah, I don’t think I really lost confidence, but I gained a lot, especially when [Sanders] was down in the Chicago game, had my first touchdown, played special teams," Latimer said. “... I’m just glad I’m in position maybe."
Kubiak thinks Latimer could be poised to add impact to the offense.
“I think he’s on his way to doing that, he’s behind two great players [in Thomas and Sanders]," Kubiak said. "And my position with him has always been ‘Cody, guys at your position do one of two things, some guys sit there and say 'Heck, I’m not going to pass up those two great guys' or some guys say 'I’m going to be better',’ and he’s taken the working approach to it. Now it’s got to transfer to the field. I think Cody mentally having a better understanding of the big picture offensively of what you’re trying to do his job, it’s allowing his talents to take over more."
At the moment Thomas and Sanders also happen to be the only givens on the wide receiver depth chart. If they keep five or six receivers, that leaves several spots open for players to fill.
Latimer, Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler were on the team’s roster last season. While Jordan Taylor was on the practice squad last season, Manning endorsed him as a player that could make a future impact. The Broncos also have four undrafted rookies to go with third-year veteran DeVier Posey.
“But I got a good grip on what we’re doing, how the NFL goes and what I need to do," Latimer said. “I’m a lot more comfortable."
Latimer’s productive offseason took a turn when he was arrested earlier this month. Latimer called police to report that he was slapped in the face by his girlfriend but was arrested on an outstanding misdemeanor traffic warrant.
“I feel like everything was headed the right way before that," Latimer said. “But I talked to the (Broncos) right away, told them the whole situation. Getting arrested that wasn’t supposed to happen if I had taken care of the ticket. But all the charges were dropped and I think they know here I won’t have anything like that again. I have too many plans for that."