On anniversary of his injury, Broncos' Courtland Sutton shows 'he's back'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There was a time when folks often said a one-year anniversary was to be marked with paper.

Sunday, Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton took it upon himself to mark the one-year anniversary of his most difficult athletic day with a living, breathing effort that was one of his best.

"He's back," Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. "He's back."

A year ago today, Sutton suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while attempting to make a tackle after a Jeff Driskel interception in the Broncos' Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since, he has pushed through good days and bad to get back on the field.

During the Broncos' 23-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Sutton had a career-best 159 receiving yards on nine catches. He worked the high-traffic areas in the middle of the field, made the tough catches in a crowd and added a 55-yard deep shot down the middle on the Broncos' first possession of the second half to help put the game away.

"Man, it was great seeing Court going out there and making plays," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "We did a great job, calling shots, just giving guys a chance ... great to see that, talk about Court, how hard he's worked, the sacrifices he's made to get back to this point. He's a Pro Bowl receiver and you saw [Sunday] why he's a Pro Bowl receiver."

"Even to just be able to go out to practice is a blessing," Sutton said. "... It was a lot of hard work that went into it ... I've had a lot of people in my corner supporting me throughout this process, and to be able to go out there and compete in games is just a blessing."

In the Broncos' Week 1 win over the New York Giants, Sutton had one catch, on three targets, as the Giants' defenders kept any and all plays in front of them.

Sunday, the Jaguars tried to pressure Bridgewater with extra rushers far more often than the Giants did and that left the Broncos' receivers in man-to-man coverage. And Sutton, with his knee injury in the rearview mirror, showed he was more than up to the challenge.

"Last week it wasn't like we weren't looking for him or he wasn't open, that's just the way the plays went, the reads for Teddy," Fangio said. "... I knew he was ready for a big game. I didn't know if it would be [Sunday], or next week, or the following week, but I knew he was ready for a big game."

Early in the third quarter, Sutton got a step on Jacksonville cornerback Chris Claybrooks and reeled in a 55-yard completion from Bridgewater, a play that moved the ball to the Jaguars' 17-yard line. The Broncos scored two plays later for a 17-7 lead that put the game firmly in their control.

It was the kind of play Sutton would have made before his injury and a barometer of his comeback.

"It was great," Fangio said of the play. "There's a lot of big plays in every game, but the catch he made the first drive of the second half was a big one, it was critical."