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Bright spot: Sutton shines in Broncos' loss to Raiders

The second-year receiver worked the middle of the field to record the best statistical game of his young career.
Credit: AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton runs with the ball past Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Marquel Lee (52) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

OAKLAND, Calif. — It wasn’t just the production but location.

In the Broncos highly disappointing, 24-16 loss to the Oakland Raiders in their season opener Monday night, second-year receiver Courtland Sutton may have turned in Denver’s most encouraging performance.

Start with his career-best 7 catches for 120 yards. No sense overlooking the obvious. More telling, perhaps, in Sutton’s growth as a receiver is where he did his damage.

Five of his seven catches and 112 of his 120 yards came on catches between the hash marks. This from a guy who was known as a boundary, 50-50, high-point receiver as a rookie last year.

"Like I said in the beginning of training camp, I want to be something more than just a deep-ball guy," Sutton said after the Raiders’ game. "I’m pretty sure you guys could see I didn’t go deep too many times today. It was all the intermediate stuff working down the field."

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The Broncos’ other top receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, also had a fine game, especially in the second half when he had four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Such a performance, though, is almost expected of Sanders. He caught a 53-yard heave from Joe Flacco down the middle and 1-yard touchdown on a back-shoulder fade near the right corner of the end zone.

Route running was Sutton’s issue last year, but he’s obviously improved in that area in year two. Sutton used his 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame to help separate on the medium-range post pattern against the Raiders.

"Coach Rich (Scangarello) does a good job putting us all in position to make plays and that’s a play that was working tonight," Sutton said.

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