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Denver Broncos OTA’s 2018: Rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton get first-team reps

With key veterans taking the day off, the Denver Broncos were able to get some first-team reps to their rookie wide receivers, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton

NFL: Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos got back to work under voluntary OTA’s this week. Several of the veterans did not participate, so plenty of the younger players got some first-team reps on Monday.

Here are some of the highlight’s from Monday’s practice session.


Head coach Vance Joseph was asked about many of the veterans who were not in attendance at Monday’s practice sessions, which he downplayed being that the OTA sessions are voluntary.

“Is it a vet rest day?” Joseph said regarding the veterans not at practice. “No, those guys have been here all year. Not here today. It’s not mandatory so no big deal.”

There was one player who is nursing an injury that should be of great concern to all Broncos fans. Edge rusher Shane Ray has soreness and swelling in his left wrist. The same that sidelined him early last season and ultimately cause him to spend the end of the season on injured reserve.

“Shane’s got a sore wrist, so Shane is here,” Joseph said. “He’s got a sore wrist so he didn’t work today. Not a big deal for the guys who weren’t here. I think Von [Miller] missed today. I think ‘D.T.’ (Demaryius Thomas) had a personal matter and Emmanuel [Sanders] had a personal matter. It’s their time. We can’t take roll. I’m not concerned about it. They’ve been here all year. We’re good. We coached the guys that were here today.”

Rookie wide receivers get some first team reps

Both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton saw first-team reps as veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders took the day off. The experience was good and both players impressed.

“So far so good with those two guys—‘14’ (Courtland Sutton) and ‘17’ (DaeSean Hamilton) are very mature football players,” Vance Joseph said after practice on Monday. “Obviously, those two guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) missed. They (Sutton and Hamilton) pushed up to the first team and we didn’t miss a beat. That’s what you want. You want guys in each room who can play as a starter. I was very pleased with those two guys today.”

Sutton in particular figures to be a premier red zone option as a rookie, so getting chemistry with quarterback Case Keenum is going to be very important for him. So far the young rookie is listening well and paying attention to the details to gain Keenum’s trust on the football field.

“Every time I get a chance to get any type of reps it’s really nice because you’ve got to maximize every rep,” Sutton said. “To get those ‘one’ reps with Case [Keenum] is really important because you never know what can happen in a game and practice. In this league, it’s ‘next man up.’ You have to always be ready and always be prepared, and know what you’re supposed to do so that whenever something like this happens and they’re not here, we just have to step up and make sure that practice doesn’t go down. We just have to continue to get better and grow and take advantage of those reps with Case.”

Hamilton too got in on the action. Last week, Chris Harris Jr. was barely cognizant of Hamilton’s existence. That all changed in one play on Monday.

Okay, well maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Chris Harris Jr. provided some clarification on how badly he was beating by Hamilton on that play.

Chad Kelly is getting high praise from his teammates

According to Andrew Mason’s report, Paxton Lynch had an up and down day. Meanwhile, Chad Kelly was doing some things. He tossed a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver John Diarse in what was a great throw and an even greater catch.

Kelly then receiving some high praise from Diarse after practice noting the young quarterbacks strong leadership qualities and attention to detail - both things Lynch has struggled to master through his first three seasons.

“[He’s] somebody I can lean on,” Diarse said. “I have questions, and I have somebody I can confide in when a defense doesn’t look right. He’s doing a great job of leading us in that huddle.”

Let the $wag momentum continue to build. Many of us fans fully expect him to lock down the backup position behind Keenum by the time August rolls around.

Speaking of rookie John Diarse, he has made some plays and is a guy whose name keeps popping up in practice. Again, the pads aren’t on just yet, but this is when fringe roster guys need to start making themselves known to the coaches and veterans.

Vance Joseph wants scheme to fit players

One thing I saw from the post-practice interviews was head coach Vance Joseph talking about developing players in OTA’s and beyond.

“I think having a plan for each player, that’s so important, especially when it comes to developing players,” Joseph said of scheme fit and developing young players. “System-wise, it’s got to fit all of us, but having a plan for each player, that’s important. We’ve got some young kids here that we want to see get better every day, so having drill work for those guys and having homework for those guys is so important. Our system right now, it’s really good on both sides of the ball. I’ve been impressed both coordinators and how they’ve incorporated everybody’s skill set. It’s been easy learning for both sides so it’s been fun.”

This seemed like a departure from previous years and could be an exciting development with this coaching staff if they are able to scheme the players into successful situations. Having a solid philosophy of coaching players is one thing. Pairing it with creative and successful play calling is quite another.

Even so, we should be happy to see that Joseph and his coaching staff are doing their best to evolve their game plans and schemes to fit the strengths of every single player on the roster.


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