The Broncos’ regular-season opener isn’t for another few months, but over the next few weeks, DenverBroncos.com will take an early look at each game on the Broncos’ 2020 schedule. We don’t know how injuries could impact each contest, but we’ll present the pressing storylines, matchups, questions and more.
It’s never too early to start talking football.
We continue with Denver’s Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Storyline to monitor:
For the first time since he was traded to San Francisco in 2019, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will return to Empower Field at Mile High. After signing with the Broncos in 2014 as a free agent, Sanders posted 5,361 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns during his six-plus seasons in Denver. A two-time Pro Bowler, Sanders provided a dynamic element to the Broncos’ offense. In Week 12, he’ll return with hopes of winding up in the end zone again. This time, though, he’ll be paired with quarterback Drew Brees, 2019 Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. Sanders, while not the Saints’ top option, still bears monitoring. He still possesses the toughness, route-running ability and speed to make an impact. Now No. 17 with the Saints, the former Bronco will pose a challenge for Denver’s new-look secondary.
The question mark:
Are the Broncos ready to defend Taysom Hill?
The Saints’ all-purpose player is listed as a quarterback, but he lines up all over the field for New Orleans. He can throw the ball, block as a fullback, catch passes and even return kicks. And while Hill has shared his ultimate goal is to be a starting quarterback, he currently is a player that can hurt opponents in a variety of different capacities if they’re not aware of where he is on the field. In the Saints’ playoff loss to the Vikings last January, Hill posted the 13th game in NFL history where a player rushed and threw for 50 yards and also had 25 yards receiving. He finished the game with four carries for 50 yards, two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown and one completion for 50 yards.
The Broncos must be ready to gang tackle a physical player whose role can change from play to play. More importantly, the Broncos’ defense must be sound in its assignments. Against a team as talented as the Saints, Denver cannot afford to give up first downs or scores when New Orleans runs its gadget plays.