After his 2018 season ended with a torn Achilles tendon, Emmanuel Sanders has been working toward his 2019 comeback, and if you want to see each step of the progress, check his Instagram videos.
But the good news is, his recovery is ahead of schedule and the Denver Broncos veteran receiver who was almost a cap casualty during the offseason now looks to be the leader of a young receiving corps.
Emmanuel Sanders profile
Weight: 180 pounds
Experience: 10th season
Sanders will be the experienced leader of a talented young group that includes Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick, Juwann Winfree, et al. The offense is a big question mark for the Broncos in 2019. Joe Flacco will need a reliable target that can make plays and move the chains. Sanders has proven throughout his career that he is capable of both of those things.
At first glance, the Broncos may look no better than the 2018 version. The loss of Sanders hurt the team, but it wasn’t the reason Denver was 6-10. Can his return to the field help Denver win a few more games? Will he stay healthy after a pretty serious injury? Can he be a leader on an offense that needs veteran leadership?
On a team with a lot of youth at skill positions, having a veteran presence can help mitigate some of the growing pains. Sanders can be the guy to lead a young receiving group, and show them what it means to be a wide receiver in the NFL.
Sanders has always been a strong route runner, and has great hands. He is a reliable receiver who will layout for a ball, make the right play to keep the chains moving, and create big plays down field.
Sanders is one of those players who puts it all on the field. He will always put in the effort, and watching his videos of his rehab shows his commitment to being back on the field as soon as possible. That translates onto the field, where his talents can only serve to be a big help to the offense.
Emmanuel Sanders ain't havin' it with his 89 speed rating in Madden pic.twitter.com/RkZGxkU12o— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 18, 2019
All the negatives for Sanders stem from his age and injury. He has shown the skills and talent to be one of the best receivers in the game. However, entering his 10th season, coming off an injury that will limit his practice time, could all work against him.
Couple that with young receivers who look like they could be ready to make a jump in the upcoming season, and Sanders could be the odd man out.
One of the big issues players run into as they get older is they age out of their contracts. Sanders looked like he was going to be a cap casualty earlier in the offseason. While he has avoided being cut, he could find himself on the trading block during the season. What happens will all depend on where the Broncos season is heading.
“It’s a slow but sure process. He’s out here working early in practice with guys. They take him in and do some more cardio with him. That way he doesn’t have to pound on the ground. Everything is good so far with him. He’s where we’re expecting him to be and even a little bit more.” - Vic Fangio on Sanders’ recovery
“He’s looking good and I’m proud of him for coming back from something like that (Achilles). He’s going to show a lot of people why he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL.” - Phillip Lindsay
Emmanuel Sanders’ roster status with the Broncos
Unless something drastic happens, Sanders will be on the Broncos roster in his usual starting role in 2019. While he is still not all the way back from injury, he should be good to go for the regular season. He may need some time to get back into the mix, and build chemistry with Flacco, but he should contribute right away.