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Training Camp Takes: You just can't keep Courtland Sutton down

Andrew Mason Avatar
August 20, 2020

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Courtland Sutton lived a cliche Wednesday morning.

It isn’t whether you fall down; it’s what you do when you get back up. In doing so, Sutton turned in the two longest gains of the day for the offense on passes from Drew Lock.


But first, he had to overcome a drop.

The first time Drew Lock targeted Sutton during Wednesday’s practice, the Broncos were in seven-on-seven. Their previous period, the first team period of the day, saw the first, second and third teams all emphasize the ruling game. Sutton caught the first pass thrown his way, a short pass in the left flat that saw Von Miller in coverage.

Two snaps later, Sutton cut in front of Bryce Callahan and had Lock’s pass in his sights. He dropped it. It would not be until the next team period before Lock targeted Sutton again.

When he did, he went for it all.

It was a “move-the-ball” period, with the offense looking to move downfield. Sutton and Callahan engaged in hand-to-hand combat as the third-year receiver worked his way down the right flank. With time, Lock fired over a leaping Shelby Harris.

The pass was perfect. Callahan was inside; the pass went outside. Sutton reached out for it at around the defense’s 20-yard line and then ran the rest of the way for what had the potential to be a 66-yard touchdown in game conditions.

After that, the coaches hit “reset” and moved the offense back to the 50-yard line.

No problem, the offense figured.

Four plays later, with the offense in a fourth-and-4 situation at the defense’s 44-yard line, Lock looked for Sutton again. This time, Callahan had safety help from Kareem Jackson. The pass went down the left seam. Callahan and Jackson nearly collided. One step past both, Sutton grabbed the pass for the score.

He’s the WR1 for a reason. And when the opportunity to hit Sutton deep exists, the Broncos are going to take it.

“We’re going to try and exploit one-on-one matchups; we’re going to find the one-on-one and we’re not going to be afraid to attack it,” tight end Jake Butt said. “We might like a concept front side, but if we have Courtland one-on-one on the next side, let’s not screw around with it. Let’s go attack that matchup because we like that.

“That’s kind of Pat [Shurmur’s] mindset. Let’s put the pressure on the defense and get them on their heels.”

Or better yet, get the defense down for the count. In that period, Sutton delivered the knockout blows.


Tackle-to-the-ground, game-condition simulations are likely coming at some point in the next several days, but the Broncos took a step toward that with multiple “move-the-ball” periods Wednesday, including the one in which Sutton made his downfield grabs.

During the first “move-the-ball” period, the first-, second- and third-team offenses all succeeded at moving into the red zone. Sutton played the primary role in the first-team’s success, with two touchdowns. Jeff Driskel led the second-team offense into scoring range before a tip-drill interception; the primary propulsion was a 21-yard pass near the right sideline to WR Tyrie Cleveland. Brett Rypien never faced as much as a third down on his drive, which saw him move the offense 57 yards to the defense’s 13-yard line before a horn blew to end the period.

The next “move-the-ball” period went better for the first-team defense. Todd Davis had a fourth-down stop of Jake Butt, holding him 1 yard short on a fourth-and-3 from the defense’s 46-yard line. The march likely should not have gotten that far, as Miller beat Jake Rodgers on the outside shoulder for what would have likely been a sack in game conditions; Miller moved wide and Lock completed a pass to continue the drive.

Given a second shot, Driskel again drove the No. 2 offense downfield against the second-team defense. He kept the drive alive with a 16-yard completion to Butt on a fourth-and-3 from the offense’s 42-yard line, then completed three more passes to move the offense to the defense’s 23-yard line before the horn blew to end the period.


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  • OLB Malik Reed saw some first-team work with Bradley Chubb receiving a rest day and capitalized, recording multiple pressures while also being sound at the point of attack against the run. The best example of this came during the initial team period of practice, when he worked against Garett Bolles and created separation, allowing him to pounce and fill the hole as Phillip Lindsay tried to run through it. Reed also had a play where he was in position to tackle Lindsay on a swing pass after Lock managed to get the pass away under pressure. In game conditions, this would have likely resulted in an open-field tackle and no gain or a loss of a yard.
  • TE Troy Fumagalli: With the Broncos practicing without their top two tight ends, Fumagalli and Butt saw extensive first-team work. Butt’s day wasn’t his best; he dropped a potential touchdown pass from Lock during a seven-on-seven red-zone period. But Fumagalli was everywhere with four receptions, including a red-zone touchdown pass from Lock.

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  • QB Jeff Driskel had some rough moments in the red zone, although he did string together a series of completions in the “move-the-ball” periods. During a 7-on-7 red-zone period, he failed to release a pass on two of three snaps, with the whistle blowing the play dead before he made a decision to fire away. Later during a “move-the-ball” period, he guided the offense 45 yards to the defense’s 15-yard line, completing four consecutive passes to provide the thrust for the drive. But then he misfired to K.J. Hamler, who was running a short slant route amid a thicket of defenders. The ball bounced off of Duke Dawson and Dre’Mont Jones before Josey Jewell settled under it and intercepted it, ending the possession.
  • OT Jake Rodgers saw some first-team repetitions rotating with Elijah Wilkinson, but struggled in pass-protection opportunities against Miller. One pressure he allowed would have likely been a sack if game conditions had existed.


  • OLB Bradley Chubb watched from the sideline. “Bradley was ready to go today. He could have practiced. I just decided to give him the day off there.” Reed and Jeremiah Attaochu filled in for Chubb at outside linebacker.
  • TE Noah Fant was not at practice because of an illness. “Not COVID sick — normal sick,” Fangio said.
  • TE Nick Vannett is in the post-concussion protocol, Fangio said. He will be out “the next few days.”
  • CB Davontae Harris took in practice from the sideline because of a knee contusion.
  • WR Juwann Winfree was in uniform, but was limited to individual repetitions.


While Sutton’s deep receptions stole the show, it was Fumagalli’s touchdown pass that made this observer sit up straighter in his chair to take notice. Fumagalli ran a route in the back of the end zone that had him moving toward the left pylon. With Isaac Yiadom in coverage, Lock fired a pass high that Fumagalli anticipated perfectly, plucking it with both hands raised high above his head. It was an ideal throw by Lock — since it gave Yiadom little chance to make a play on the ball — and a letter-perfect reception by the third-year tight end.


  • Red-zone work was the major point of emphasis Wednesday, with team and seven-on-seven periods focused on it.
  • During one brief burst of red-zone work, Justin Simmons and A.J. Bouye broke up consecutive Lock passes — one to Jerry Jeudy in traffic in the middle of the end zone, and one to Sutton on a fade near the right sideline.
  • Lloyd Cushenberry III saw some first-team repetitions at center and held his own. He had some standout moments in run blocking, including one with the No. 2 offensive line where he worked in tandem with Quinn Bailey to make a seal for Lindsay on the left side, allowing the third-year running back to gallop through for what would have been a double-digit gain in game conditions.
  • There was not a fight Wednesday. The closest thing to a scuffle came late in practice when rookie guard Netane Muti and ILB Josey Jewell exchanged pleasantries after a play, although it didn’t lead to anything more than that.
  • Third-team QB Brett Rypien looked smooth throughout the day. During one of the “move-the-ball” periods, he completed four consecutive passes, including one that saw him quickly field a high snap from Patrick Morris and quickly complete a pass to Fumagalli to his left. Rypien also had a nice play during a red-zone period where he rolled to his right and found Fred Brown streaking toward the pylon for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Rypien also hit rookie WR Kendall Hinton for a touchdown pass in a seven-on-seven red-zone period.
  • One play after the Rypien-to-Brown touchdown, he found Tyrie Cleveland for a touchdown on a swing pass. This was one of the most well-executed plays of the day for the offense. Butt helped make it possible with a goal-line block of De’Vante Bausby, meaning that when Cleveland got past safety P.J. Locke in the right flat, it was an easy jaunt to the end zone.
  • DE Dre’Mont Jones broke down multiple running plays with good penetration.
  • The special-teams periods focused on kickoffs and field goals.


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