One of the biggest acquisitions during the offseason for the Denver Broncos was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. It was Thursday when Sanders was cleared to practice, as he has been nursing a thigh and quad injury. It is not a secret that the final two practices between the Broncos and Houston Texans have been physical and emotional, to say the least.
The Broncos now find themselves in a bit of a predicament. Denver lost wide receiver Eric Decker to the New York Jets in the offseason, and are dependent on Sanders playing a significant role in order to fill that gap. The Broncos were also giving wide receiver Jordan Norwood a serious chance of getting reps this season, which ended Wednesday when Norwood tore his ACL.
Denver needs to be cautious come Saturday night as they host the Texans. The team does not want to risk further injury to Sanders, however, he does need some in-game reps with Peyton Manning prior to the regular season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
It is a true risk-reward situation for the Broncos. Let Sanders play with Manning for a half or a quarter in order to further build chemistry, or let Sanders play against an aggressive Texans defense and risk further injury to his legs.
If Sanders does in fact reinjure himself and is unable to play in Week 1 against Indianapolis, Denver will likely have to turn to veteran Andre Caldwell or rookie Cody Latimer. This probably isn’t what the Broncos envisioned after signing Sanders to a lucrative contract.
This is where John Fox earns his dollar bills, by making a smart decision. Sit Sanders on Saturday and work him hard during practices next week when Denver is not playing an opposing opponent. If the Broncos make a run to the Super Bowl this season, the team must get a large contribution from Sanders. Denver should not risk further injury with their top offensive acquisition of the offseason.