The Denver Broncos' playoff hopes were dealt a major blow, as star wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is done for the season following tearing his Achilles in Wednesday's practice.
ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news.
Broncos’ WR Emmanuel Sanders was running routes against air for the QBs to get throws in. Uncovered, on a short route, Sanders went down. It looked like he knew right away. He took his helmet off immediately, rolled it away from him and trainers checked his left ankle/lower leg.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 5, 2018
The 6-6 Broncos have won three straight games and found themselves right back in the thick AFC playoff race. But the team is now without its No. 1 receiver for the season, which strongly jeopardizes their chances of getting in now.
Sanders leads the Broncos in receptions (71), yards (868), and four touchdowns (four). The team already traded former Pro Bowl wideout Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans at the deadline, so losing Sanders for the season already hurts more.
That leaves rookie Courtland Sutton as the team's new No. 1. wide receiver. He has 28 receptions for 558 yards and three touchdowns. After Sutton, there's a great lack of depth in wideout talent on the Denver roster.
The Broncos did pick up veteran wideout Andre Holmes after the Sanders news, but he's not exactly a game-changer of a player. Thus, the Broncos will rely heavily on young running back Phillip Lindsay to carry the offense as they try to make another run at the postseason.
Denver also lost Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr. for the season with a fractured fibula, but they've managed to string together some key wins in the wake of adversity. But surviving the losses of Harris and Sanders might be a little too much to ask for.
What This Means
Sanders turns 32 years of age in March, which is considered old for an NFL wide receiver. He relies solely on his legs and speed, so the Broncos can only hope that he won't have lost a step when he returns next year.
It's up to quarterback Case Keenum, Sutton and Lindsay to save the Denver offense now.