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Bronco notes: Sutton close to full recovery from knee injury after productive practice

Hamler returns after one day in COVID-19 protocols. Conway waived/injured after knee injury. McManus kicks well.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Forty-five weeks after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in the first half of the Broncos’ loss at Pittsburgh last season, Courtland Sutton created separation from his cornerback and caught a deep out cut from Drew Lock.

Later in Day 7 of Broncos training camp Wednesday, on a sunny, but temperature-perfect morning at UCHealth Training Center, Sutton caught a deep in-cut from Teddy Bridgewater, a pass in which the receiver changed directions and dove forward to catch a ball that was low and away.

Sutton later caught a bubble screen, another deep curl from Bridgewater, and another deep out from Lock. By deep, we’re talking 16 to 22 yards.

Let’s call that ACL tear a 45 week injury. Courtland Sutton is back.

"I was very happy to see Courtland do what he did today," Lock said. "He’s excited to be back out here. I think slowly but surely and even these last couple days you’ve seen him take off. I think he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable out here. I don’t blame him. That’s a tough injury to come back from, especially as a receiver, cutting and changing directions. I think you saw more of a glimpse of the old Court today and it’s been fun to watch him come back to it."

Sutton was the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver in 2019 when he made 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns despite playing with three quarterbacks who each had multiple starts. Even with the presence of first-round receiver Jerry Jeudy last year, Lock targeted Sutton more than any other during training camp last year.

Then came a shoulder injury followed by the ACL. As Sutton gradually works his way back into form while wearing a large brace on his left knee in camp, Jeudy has been the Broncos’ top receiver. Sutton also caught a go-route during the team’s controlled scrimmage Saturday so all that’s left for him to prove he’s 100 percent is to start hauling in those patented, jump balls down field.

Sutton and Jeudy a healthy 1-2 receiver combo for the Broncos, plus tight end Noah Fant? The winner of the QB competition between Lock and Bridgewater will have a chance to go from even-steven, as head coach Vic Fangio has put it, to enjoying a big year.

Credit: Brian Olson/KUSA

Hamler clears COVID protocols

Slot receiver KJ Hamler returned to practice Wednesday, one day after he spent a day sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols.

It turned out Hamler, who has had both vaccination shots, had a false negative test result for the virus Tuesday.

"I tested positive and then a half hour later I tested negative," Hamler said. "But I still had to spend a day in the COVID protocol."

Hamler has had an encouraging camp to date with several catches during 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 periods.

Bronco Bits

The Broncos officially signed cornerback Saivion Smith to their 90-man roster Wednesday and made room by waiving offensive tackle Cody Conway, who suffered a serious knee injury during practice Tuesday. …

Brandon McManus was 7 out of 8 in field goals against live, 11 on 11 competition Wednesday. He was good from 60, 55, 51, 47, 44, 41 and 39 yards. He missed a 58-yard attempt wide left. …

Head coach Vic Fangio gave “vet days” off to outside linebacker Von Miller and right guard Graham Glasgow. …

Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming returned to practice after missing one day with an ankle issue. Defensive lineman Deyon Sizer will miss a week or two after straining a hamstring Tuesday.

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