ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A simple passing route Wednesday could throw the Broncos off their path to the playoffs.
Veteran Emmanuel Sanders, the team's most productive receiving threat, went down on a slant route with growing concern that he tore his left Achilles, according to a source. He will undergo further testing, but the fear is he will be lost for the season. The Broncos plan to place him on season-ending IR to make room for receiver Andre Holmes, claimed off waivers from Buffalo after Sanders got hurt.
Sanders was running a pattern without defenders when he fell as he cut. He immediately tossed his helmet in disgust as coaches hustled over to him. He limped gingerly to the locker room, unable to hide his disappointment. Achilles ruptures can take eight months to a year to heal.
Sanders has 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns. He leads the team in targets (98) and has been a favorite of quarterback Case Keenum since he arrived in Denver. Few wideouts receive more percentage of throws than Sanders. He was on pace for 95 catches and 1,157 yards. Rookie Courtland Sutton ranks second on the team in targets with 59.
Sanders' absence would move DaeSean Hamilton (five catches), Tim Patrick (four catches) and River Cracraft into larger roles. The Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas a month ago to clear playing time for Sutton, who leads the NFL with a 19.9 average per catch.
The Broncos lost All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to a broken right fibula. He hopes to return for the final week of the season.