Ever since Emmanuel Sanders came up limping during training camp August 6, things have not been easy for him. That day, the Denver Broncos Pro Bowl wide receiver suffered a quad injury that kept him out for most of the preseason, and since then he’s struggled to get back to 100 percent.
However, despite being slowed down by injuries this season, Sanders has still been able to produce. He’s snagged 46 catches for 639 yards and a team leading four touchdown receptions. His sticky hands and elite downfield speed make him a versatile and useful target. Yet, one can only imagine what his numbers would look like if he was playing healthy.
Sanders sat out during the Broncos 17-15 victory over the Chicago Bears with an ankle injury and feels that rest could contribute to a breakout game Sunday night against the undefeated New England Patriots. “My ankle feels good,” Sanders said. “I practiced all week. It felt good to do that. I think that I’m mentally and physically prepared for the game.”
The Broncos will need him to play well if they’re going to walk away with the upset victory over Tom Brady and company.
“I think it’s a five star matchup,” Sanders said. “We have to go out and handle our business. On offense, we have to execute at a high level. We can’t turn the football over.”
That has been easier said than done this season. The Broncos have given the football away 19 times this season. 17 of those turnovers came from Peyton Manning interceptions. The five-time NFL MVP is sitting out this weekend with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
This will be the first game in Sanders’ Broncos career that Peyton Manning has not been his starting quarterback. Instead, Sanders will catch passes thrown from the arm of 25-year-old gunslinger Brock Osweiler.
However, Sanders and Osweiler are not total strangers to one another. They have been working together during mid-week practices this season while Manning has been receiving rest and treatment.
“The chemistry is good,” Sanders said. “Peyton hasn’t been going on Wednesdays, so I’ve had an opportunity to go with Brock and it’s definitely paid off. I texted him last night about what he’s seeing and what I’m seeing. So, it’s going to pay off.”