ENGLEWOOD -- Just when Broncos fans thought this week couldn't get worse.
Two days after losing Von Miller to a dislocated tendon in his ankle that will require surgery, likely ending his season, star receiver Courtland Sutton left Thursday's practice with a shoulder injury.
According to a source, Sutton was diagnosed with a sprained AC joint, leaving him questionable for Monday night's season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
Multiple NFL players have participated with this injury in recent seasons, including former Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian. However, it will be painful for Sutton because he will have to raise his arms to catch passes.
Denver7 was watching practice during the open media viewing period when Sutton ran a route against air -- no defenders. He attempted to make a reaching catch with his outstretched left hand and came down awkwardly as braced his fall with his right hand. He stayed down for a moment on all fours, before heading to the sideline.
Sutton then squatted down, as if catching his breath, as a trainer spoke with him. He shook his right shoulder a little bit as it looked like his position coach Zach Azzanni came over to ask Sutton about his condition. Sutton stood up and exited to the locker room with trainers at his side, creating angst for Broncos fans who have endured a miserable week.
Now this. Another anxiety-soaked day for Broncos' fans. An official injury report listed Sutton as "limited" on Thursday.
If Miller was the Broncos' best player, Sutton might be the team's most important. The Broncos have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, in large part, because of an underwhelming offense. They averaged 21 points in quarterback Drew Lock's five starts last season, creating hope. The addition of new offensive boss Pat Shurmur, who brings deep strikes in the passing game, receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler and running back Melvin Gordon stoked optimism.
Sutton, 24, reached the Pro Bowl in his second season. He posted a team-best 72 catches for 1,112 yards with six touchdowns last year, and emerged as the go-to target for Lock. The Broncos have more depth than in past seasons, but it would be unfair to expect Jeudy to serve as a No. 1 receiver in his NFL debut. Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton and Hamler, whose hamstring injury has improved dramatically, make out the rest of the receiving corps, one brimming with potential, but without preseason games to assess progress.
The final week of training camp created a compelling argument that the offense, which struggled for long stretches in August, had turned the corner. Lock admitted this week that something "clicked." It showed in his performance last Saturday, and Sutton was a big part of it, leaving him eager to face the Titans on Monday night.
"Seeing how Drew played last year, and how the group has prepared, I have confidence (in our offense) because I have seen us work every day. We have fixed things as fast as we can in training camp," Sutton said, roughly a half-hour before he suffered his injury Thursday. "We know we can't be anything less than our best."
He is right. And if the Broncos are forced to play without him, they will not be.
Watching Bradley Chubb work in practice Thursday increased confidence that he will make an impact Monday night. He ran full speed, simulating rushes and backpedaling. Coach Fangio said Chubb has improved and felt good before Thursday's practice after an increased workload Wednesday. ...
Per a source, the Broncos hosted outside linebacker Isaiah Irving for a visit, and are expected to sign him to their practice squad for depth following Miller's injury. Irving played 33 games for Chicago over the past two seasons, including 20 as a reserve for Fangio in 2017 and 2018. ...
Linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) worked on the side with trainers, leaving him racing the clock to be ready for the opener.