ENGLEWOOD — At Tuesday's practice, Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton replaced punches with a punchline.
"First of all, I just want all the media and the fans to know that me and Courtland are selling pay-per-view tickets for our next bout starting at $69.99," said a laughing Sanders while standing next to Sutton. "Tickets will go on sale tomorrow. Questions?”
I had one for the pair after Monday's fracas: What happened and where does it stand now between the two receivers?
“It stands good. Obviously, we’re family. We went to the same school and grew up in the same area. It was a miscommunication and that’s just what it is, but at the end of the day, we’re back on the same page trying to be the best receivers in the world," Sanders said. "Sometimes through failure is growth and I feel like me and him have grown through this, in terms of bringing that dog out of us even more and just ready to win and ready to tear it up.”
Added Sutton, a second-year player from SMU who took on more of a leadership role this offseason:
“One-hundred percent. I think what Emmanuel said is right on point. We’re brothers at the end of the day. That’s all that matters. Like he said, we went to the same school. This is a dude I look up to, a dude I’ve been watching for a long time, chasing his records and getting here and following in his footsteps. All of that stuff is swept under the rug. We’re moving on to bigger and better things. We’re ready to win and take what we have here and keep growing.”
Sanders concluded the popup shop presser by calling attention to the faux PPV bout. And that was it. They walked off, the fight and fists a thing of the past. Both view themselves as No. 1 receivers so, in some ways, friction is unavoidable. Sanders is the longest-tenured member of the offense. When he voiced concerns over Monday's sloppy beginning to practice, Sutton heard him but also views himself as an emerging voice on the unit. Thus, words and punches were exchanged and water bottles were tossed. As far as teammates are concerned, it is over.
"I guess there is a first for everything. But, hey, I think when things come from a good place and you have two competitive guys, and practice is having its ups and downs in the beginning part of things, stuff happens," explained Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. "The only thing I said to those guys was, ‘Hey, it happened. But now our goal is to finish the rest of practice and be productive with that.’ You have to put that behind you. Especially with Courtland just because he’s a younger guy and it might have more of an effect on him. But those things, you let them be. They work them out.”
Fangio, who broke up a skirmish on Tuesday between reserve linemen on opposite sides of the ball, was more blunt.
“Yeah, I think it’s been put to bed and it’s a dead issue," Fangio said.
It's easier for the Broncos to move forward because the schedule demands it. They play at Seattle on Thursday. It features the debut of Flacco. He remains calmer than a lagoon. Even though he is making a first impression, he's not wringing his hands over an exhibition game in his 12th season.
"At this point, it doesn’t really feel any different," Flacco said. "I think your rookie year is obviously a little different than any of the others. But at this point I am used to being here. I am used to being in this uniform. These are my teammates and I am just excited about doing it.”
Flacco will likely play a few series, flanked by many first-teamers. Only right guard Ron Leary (Achilles) and Sanders (Achilles) are not expected to play on offense. It means the Broncos will provide a glimpse of the new wrinkles with the likes of Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Theo Riddick and Sutton. But the focus remains on Flacco, the franchise's fifth starter since Peyton Manning retired following the Super Bowl 50 victory.
"Of course, I’m sure that Joe is going to do an extremely good job and I look up to Joe Flacco a ton. Shoot, I think I might have been in middle school whenever he won the Super Bowl for the Ravens," left guard Dalton Risner said. "Being out here blocking for him is an honor. I take a lot of pride in blocking for him because I know that he knows what he’s doing and he works his butt off every day in practice. My job every day is to go out there and protect him.”
The signing of Riddick places running back Devontae Booker's roster spot in jeopardy. He is ready. "It's all competition in our group. We have to go out there and compete everyday." ... Flacco was asked, jokingly, if he would watch the PPV match between Sanders and Sutton. "Yeah. Why not? I’d watch it (laughing). I might have a front row seat though. I don’t have to pay. I get a free ticket into the stadium. Like I said, it’s part of this sport. Its physical, guys’ emotions are high, and we’ve been here for a few weeks now—a bunch of reps. Emmanuel — he’s a vet. He’s a guy that wants to see this team go someplace and he’s going to speak his mind on how that’s going to happen.” ... Those ruled out for Thursday's game include linebacker Josey Jewell (oblique), LB Todd Davis (calf), LB Joe Jones (triceps, out multiple weeks if not the rest of preseason), TE Jake Butt (hasn't practiced since July 20 as recovers from third ACL surgery), TE Bug Howard (ankle), Bryce Callahan (foot). And Jeff Heuerman might not play because of a shoulder issue.