His recovery has reportedly been going smoothly, but the veteran is unsure if he’ll be ready when the season starts. Sanders said recently that “being available for the Broncos’ opener ‘feels realistic,’” per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link). While that certainly doesn’t mean he’ll definitely miss regular season time, “realistic” doesn’t exactly sound like a huge vote of confidence from Sanders.
Jhabvala adds that Sanders was unwilling to provide “a concrete timetable on his comeback.” Sanders’ injury was especially tough because he had been having a great season before going down. After a tough 2017, he had reestablished himself as a top receiver, racking up 868 yards in just 12 games. Shortly before Sanders went down, the Broncos traded away longtime staple of their receiving corp Demaryius Thomas.
The Broncos are now thin on veterans, and will be leaning on second-year players like Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Achilles injuries can be tricky, and Sanders is 32 now. Even when he comes back, he likely won’t be 100 percent right away, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to regain his prior form. Denver’s offense is going to look completely different next season with Joe Flacco under center and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello calling plays.
Back in May, Sanders shared a video of himself doing his first post-surgery sprints, but it’s a long road back from such a devastating injury. Sutton, a 2018 second-round pick from SMU, showed a lot of promise as a rookie, and he’ll be counted on to play a much bigger role next year. For Flacco’s sake, hopefully Sanders is able to make it back soon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.