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Broncos notes: Fangio compares Mahomes to a younger Elway

Sanders may play Thursday despite knee injury. Lock may be held back from practicing until next week.
Credit: AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Comparing Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes II to the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning is silly, at least in terms of style.

Brady, Manning and Brees are the best, maybe ever, but they are/were pocket quarterbacks.

Mahomes has a stronger arm than any of those three greats and even with a gimpy ankle he’s much more mobile than any of them.

What makes Mahomes unique is the strong arm he employs along with a schoolyard style of play. The Broncos had the Chiefs beat in Denver in game 4 last year, up 23-13 midway through the fourth quarter. But then Mahomes went school yard, scrambling and throwing all over what is now called Empower Field at Mile High to rally the Chiefs to a 27-23 win.

"I think he’s like John Elway was in the ‘80s and ‘90s," said Broncos’ coach Vic Fangio.

And he’s not just buttering up his boss. Elway was a scramble over here, rocket a deep throw over there type of quarterback.

"He’s that guy. Like Aaron Rodgers has been for the last 12, 14 years, however many years he’s been starting," Fangio said in pulling out another off-script quarterback. "He’s the great passer, the great improvisor. Plays with a lot of athletic arrogance, which is a compliment. He’s very confident in his abilities. Very poised. Doesn’t get rattled.

"And he’s got an arm that’s really, really good. He can make all the throws they’re asking him to make and some they’re not even asking him to make that show up in his improvisation."

Mahomes has 64 touchdown passes against just 13 interceptions going back to the start of last year, or  his past 22 games.

But the last couple weeks he seems to be bothered by a sprained ankle. Just like Elway and Rodgers weren’t quite as effective when they had to play banged up.

Bring on the Chiefs!

The shutout against the Titans is old news, even if the confidence carries over. Still, the Broncos are on to Thursday night against the three-time defending AFC West champion Chiefs.

"Obviously it’s a big rival, I know everybody’s going to be pumped up because it’s the Chiefs, them being one of the top teams in the league," said Alexander Johnson, the Broncos’ new inside linebacker standout. "We get the opportunity to compete and play some ball."

Fangio was asked if the Chiefs’ game would serve as a measuring stick for his Broncos, who are 2-4 overall but 2-0 in their two games.

"I think every game is a measuring stick," Fangio said. "But to your point, the Chiefs are the reigning champions in this division I think three years running. To some degree it is."

Sanders, James may play Thursday

Emmanuel Sanders sat out the second half Sunday with a knee injury, but the Broncos veteran receiver could be OK to at least play against the Chiefs. Sanders was listed as "limited" on the team’s estimated injury report Monday.

Sanders was off to a nice start this season with 23 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns through four games, but he only had two catches for 9 yards in the past two games combined.

The Broncos are also hopeful right tackle Ja'Waun James can play after missing the past five games with a left knee sprain. 

"I don't know that, yet,'' Fangio said.

IR players on hold?

Three Broncos players on injured reserve – quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Jake Butt and running back Theo Riddick – were eligible to start practicing Monday. However, because the Broncos aren’t really practicing this week – they have meetings and walkthrough type workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, those three players may be held back until next week to start practicing.

If they don’t start practicing until next week as expected, those players wouldn’t be activated on the 53-man roster until the Minnesota game in week 11.

Riddick may be held back a little longer as he continues to heal from his broken shoulder. The Broncos can only activate two players from IR. Those two players figure to come from Lock, Butt, Riddick and receiver Tim Patrick, who is also eligible to start practicing next week.

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