”Those two guys, they came in like pros, they’re taking care of their business, they’re on time to everything, they’re making plays,” Thomas said Friday. ”So, they’re pushing us. And that’s good for us. We need it. We want to push each other and make each other better.”
While Sutton has made a splash at training camp so far with daily highlight-reel catches and Hamilton has drawn his share of applause, Thomas and Sanders are quietly having very good camps themselves.
Thomas’ stats have steadily declined every season since his peak in 2014, and his streak of five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons ended last year when he finished 51 yards shy.
Sanders dealt with injuries and his two TD catches were his fewest since 2012.
Part of the problem in 2017 was that the Broncos had nobody around them – a third receiver, a tight end, a running back – who could really force teams to quit bracketing Thomas and Sanders.
That’s no longer the case .
In addition to Sutton and Hamilton, the Broncos added rookie running backs Royce Freeman, David Williams and Philip Lindsay (undrafted) along with another Big Ten tight end in Troy Fumagalli to go with Jake Butt, who missed his rookie season last year while recovering from knee surgery.
Sutton, Hamilton and Fumagalli are members of general manager John Elway’s already-celebrated draft class of 2018 that featured experience – all 10 players spent four years in school – and leadership – most were captains in college.
Safety Justin Simmons said he’s just like all the fans whooping and hollering at practice – he’s energized by and excited about the Broncos’ rookies.
Sutton’s making his job harder.
”Oh yeah, Sutton’s been great. He’s been out here making plays,” Simmons said. ”He’s just another guy that’s just humble and hungry, coming in here ready to work.”
That’s been the theme of this year’s draft class, which also includes cornerback Isaac Yiadom, inside linebackers Keishan Bierria, Josey Jewell (who practiced Friday for the first time after pulling a hamstring in June) and guard Sam Jones.
Last season, several veterans took the 2017 draft class, which was filled with raw athleticism and projects, to task for their work ethic, complaining that too many of them came off as entitled.
This year’s class drew quick praise from the veterans.
”There’s no complaining,” defensive end Derek Wolfe said. ”That’s the one thing that you notice from an immature draft class, is that they complain a lot, whine and cry a lot. There’s none of that coming from this group.”
”It’s a mature class
Sutton’s doing it with spectacular plays every day, and Hamilton’s sprinkling in his share, too.
”I’ll tell you what, we’ve got some good rookies,” Sanders said. ”I was just over there with my family and Courtland just runs over to say, `Hey, I’m going to take your helmet.’ And that’s what we need.”
Players willing to pay their dues but eager to make their mark.
Also turning heads is Chubb, the fifth overall pick in the draft who reminds defensive tackle Domata Peko Sr. of superstar Von Miller .
”He’s quick, he’s strong and he can get to the passer. He’s disruptive and he’s willing to learn,” Peko said after getting his first glimpse of the 2018 class. ”He’s always talking to Von and asking, `Hey, what can I do?’ That’s good to see out of a rookie.”
Peko also singled out Sutton and Jewell as players he’s thrilled to play alongside.
”These guys are going to make a difference for us,” Peko said. ”They’re only going to help our team. I love our new guys.”
Notes: Simmons said the league’s new helmet rule was going to be the main topic when players meet with NFL officials visiting the Broncos to go over the new rule changes. … On the sixth day of training camp, QB Case Keenum was finally intercepted, by S Will Parks. ”He’s human,” Joseph said. … The Broncos signed WR Bryce Bobo
At a time when the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ rotation is in flux, left-hander Patrick Corbin could do well to give them a good start Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Arizona expects several injured starters to return soon, and roster decisions are coming. Corbin’s spot would not seem to be in jeopardy, but he is coming off some inconsistent performances.
In early May, he was 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA. He goes into Friday’s start with a 6-3 record and a 3.48 ERA and is expected to be matched against Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova (4-5, 4.42).
Corbin has given up at least five runs in three of his past four starts, including five against the Pirates at home on June 11.
In his most recent outing, a 5-1 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday, he gave up all five runs on eight hits in six innings.
“Just a couple mistakes there,” Corbin said of the game against the Mets. “If I locate better, different outcome.”
Corbin, who is 1-2 with a 5.90 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh, hasn’t been completely off lately. He has 19 strikeouts in his past 16 2/3 innings.
But against the Mets he could not pinpoint his curveball or his fastball.
“I just thought the pitch sequencing was a little bit off, and I thought there were a lot of fastball mistakes out over the plate that were hit, and they were handled by the Mets
Lovullo hasn’t lost confidence in Corbin.
“Worrisome? No. Not an issue for me whatsoever. We know that the season is going to have good and bad moments,” he said.
The Diamondbacks (41-33) cruised to a 9-3 win in the series opener Thursday as the Pirates (36-38) lost for the third time in four games.
Pittsburgh dropped two of three last week at Arizona.
Nova was initially scheduled to start Thursday, but the Pirates opted to move everyone back a day when Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee was rained out, rather than do any shuffling with his rotation.
“This group right here has shown the ability to be flexible, to be resilient and also shown some benefits from an extra day (of rest) every now and then,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
It didn’t pan out that way. Chad Kuhl, who started the opener against Arizona after warming up several times Wednesday when there was false hope that the game against Milwaukee would be played, got rocked by the Diamondbacks for eight runs in two-plus innings.
Nova is coming off two good starts, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA since he was removed from the disabled list (sprained finger).
On Saturday, he struggled with his curveball, but it didn’t stop him from allowing just one run and five hits in six innings of a 6-2 win over Cincinnati.
“Even though I walked a couple guys, the fastball command is better than what it was before I hit the DL,” Nova said. “I think I’ve been able to control it a bit better. I think that’s been the key.”
Nova is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.