Over the past four full seasons, a mere two Denver Broncos players caught as many as 50 passes in any season and nobody other than these two reached 550 receiving yards. Indeed, when Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas became teammates for the 2014 season and future years, whether it was Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch throwing the passes, nobody else in the passing game seemed to matter so much. The target share for Sanders and Thomas was the highest for any duo in the league.
Well, neither Sanders nor Thomas will be helping the Broncos this weekend for a key road game in San Francisco, with an AFC wild-card berth still very much in play. Sanders tore his Achilles during practice Wednesday and like other players in recent weeks, he is simply and quite abruptly gone. Thomas is a relatively anonymous figure in the Houston Texans passing game since the late-October trade. Things change quickly in the NFL and for this high-powered duo, each of whom deserved WR2 status in past seasons and early in this one, they surely have, but as always, their absence creates opportunity for others.