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The next slash? Broncos want to 'run the offense through' Courtland Sutton

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Should fantasy managers fade Sutton? (1:30)

Mike Clay cautioned fantasy managers about starting Courtland Sutton last week because of how well CB Tre'Davious White and the Bills' defense have shut down wide receivers this season. (1:30)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos know Courtland Sutton can throw the ball, they know he can run it and they certainly know he can catch it.

Sutton proved he could do it all in Minneapolis two weeks ago when he had five receptions for 113 yards, two rushing attempts for 10 yards and one pass attempt for 38 yards, becoming the Broncos' only player to have thrown, run and caught the ball this season.

"It will create things in the run game, it'll create things for other players and ultimately it will be a big, big part of our future and what we do here as an organization," said Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. "It's our job also to find ways ... we can continue to run the offense through him."

Sutton doesn't just lead the Broncos in receptions (50), yards receiving (832) and receiving touchdowns (four). He leads them far and away. He has 20 more receptions than the next closest player, and that player is Emmanuel Sanders, who had 30 catches with the team before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October.

He has 458 more yards receiving than the team's next player -- rookie tight end Noah Fant -- and no other Broncos player has more than two receiving touchdowns. In short, there is no question opposing defensive coordinators know where to allocate their resources when looking at the Broncos' passing game.

In Week 11, the Vikings double-covered Sutton on every snap during the game-ending sequence at the 4-yard line of a 27-23 loss. And last Sunday, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier not only put his best cornerback -- Tre'Davious White -- on Sutton, but gave White plenty of help in the form of double coverage.

The Vikings kept the ball out of Sutton's hands in the game's key moments and the Bills limited Sutton to one catch for 27 yards on a day the Broncos gained just 134 total.

The extra attention shows just how far Sutton has come in the eyes of the teams that face him.

"Every team has coaches and has people that get paid to watch a lot of film and [the Bills] probably watched a lot of film to get ready for this game," Sutton said. "We just have to execute."

The Broncos also need to exploit the fact that opposing defenses know Sutton can do it all.

Sutton has flashed his diverse potential before. In college at SMU, his only rushing attempt went for a touchdown. He further showed off his athleticism by spending one season on SMU's basketball team as a practice player for then-coach Larry Brown. In the one game he appeared in, he drilled his only 3-point attempt.

Scangarello has called the prospects of expanding Sutton's role "exciting" and added that "it's a lot more fun when people know to double you and it's nice when you establish yourself and become 'a guy' in the league and you become something that people view with respect."

Sutton is the first Broncos wide receiver to pull off the run/pass/catch trifecta since Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker during the 2011 season. Eddie Royal also pulled it off in 2008 and Rod Smith did it in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

"I'll do whatever I can," Sutton said. "Whatever we do to win games."

And even when Sutton is facing additional defenders, the Broncos have ways of freeing him. They can put him in a bunch formation to at least prevent defenses from getting a cornerback on him at the line of scrimmage. They can also use route combinations to make it more difficult to follow Sutton through the high-traffic areas.

In the end, however, it's on Sutton to run every route with precision and on Broncos quarterbacks to take a chance from time to time, putting the ball into a crowd and allowing Sutton to try to win the ball.

"I think you trust him," Scangarello said last week. "We learned from that, we've been talking about it a lot and it'll help us down the road. Does that mean you don't go to him when he's doubled? You have to be particular with what you do and when you do it ... that's our challenge."