ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos' depth at wide receiver has been tested thus far in the preseason.
Emmanuel Sanders was back in practice Thursday after being held out of both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s workout. He has missed several days of practice since suffering a thigh injury shortly after training camp opened.
Jordan Norwood suffered a season-ending knee injury in Wednesday’s practice, and Wes Welker was excused, for personal reasons, Thursday, which was also the third and last day of the Broncos’ combined practices with the Houston Texans. It meant Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell and rookie Cody Latimer got plenty of work with the starters.
And depending on how many snaps the Broncos elect to give Thomas and Sanders in Saturday’s preseason game with the Texans, Caldwell and Latimer could get some premium playing time.
“We’ll meet [Friday] night. … We’ve already talked about coming into this week, it’s more reps, more intense reps this week might affect a little less playing time with the starters,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said.
The Broncos will have to consider some additional options at the position as well because of Norwood’s injury. Norwood, who tore his left ACL in Wednesday’s practice and will miss the season, had positioned himself to make the final 53 as the team’s sixth receiver as well as a punt returner.
The fifth-year pro, who has started just four career games, was also poised to get a smattering of snaps with one of the league 's most high-powered offense, or as he said earlier in camp “everything you could ask for as a receiver.’’
The Broncos are expected to move him to injured reserve in the coming days, but had not yet done so as of Thursday afternoon. It also means the team is still on the hunt for a punt returner where Norwood had distanced himself from most of the others who have auditioned for the job.
“Very disappointed for him, very disappointed for us selfishly," Fox said. "Jordan has worked very hard, had a very good opportunity to make our football team, make us better. So, I know he’s very disappointed, as we are.’’
As far as Saturday’s game, the Broncos might tread lightly with Sanders. After missing some practice time before the team’s preseason opener, Sanders played 20 snaps against the Seattle Seahawks only to miss practice time the following week as well as the preseason game in San Francisco last weekend. Thursday marked the first time he has been on the practice field this week, and the Broncos will have a light practice Friday morning.
Welker, too, is expected to be back with the team this weekend, but he might he held out as well.
“Get [Welker] back, see what state of mind he’s in, see where he’s at in the gameplan and go from there,’’ Fox said.