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Courtland Sutton is the next man up

With the Denver Broncos trading Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans, the franchise is confident that Courtland Sutton and their young corps of receivers are ready to shine.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country.

Yesterday marked the end of the era when the Denver Broncos traded away their longest-tenured player in Demaryius Thomas for day three draft considerations.

While it was certainly an understandable decision from a business perspective, it wasn’t remotely close to the fairy tale ending many across Broncos Country had hoped for. Many had wished he would retire after playing his entire career the only Broncos. It’s a rarity (and special thing) for a player to spend their entire career with the franchise that drafted them. In fact, I’m willing to bet that was Thomas’ dream. Unfortunately, that won’t come to pass — but we can still be thankful for everything Thomas brought to the team and city of Denver.

Though the Age of Demaryius is over, it marks the beginning of a youth movement for the Broncos’ wide receiver corps. That starts with rookie sensation Courtland Sutton. The Southern Methodist product has flashed gigantic play-making ability since the day he was drafted. While most young receivers take a few years to hit their stride and make an impact, that hasn’t been the case with Sutton who has improved tremendously throughout his rookie campaign.

In half a season of play, Sutton has hauled in 17 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to come down with miracle catches and is sporting close to a 20-yard per catch average. Without question, the Broncos are confident he is ready for an expanded role in the offense and can be a future marquee player for the franchise. They also believe that in due time DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick, who have both shown glimpses of promise in their early careers, will be able to alleviate the absence of Thomas from the squad.

“I think with them coming on like they’ve come on, and [WR] DaeSean [Hamilton] coming on, when he gets back, to rely on him—and Tim Patrick’s played well. We just felt that we make that up,” stated President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway. “We make the loss up. It may not be right away, but eventually the youth will cover that up.”

That’s the million dollar question. Can Sutton and the rest of the Broncos’ young receivers step up to the challenge and truly replace Thomas? Only time will tell. I believe Sutton is destined for greatness, but whether or not he lives up to the lofty expectations is a whole other story. In all of this, only one thing is certain — following in the footsteps of a legendary Bronco isn’t going to be an easy task.

Thomas was an all-time great Bronco and a future Ring of Famer. It was an honor and pleasure to witness the myriad of memorable moments he gave us on the gridiron. If we can say that a decade from now in regard to Sutton or any other young receiver looking to make their mark in the National Football League — that too would be special. All I can say is when and if that time comes, hopefully the finality of the situation is a bit more amicable.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

Saying goodbye to D.T.: Remembering Demaryius Thomas’ storied career in Denver
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