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Sutton making a habit of improbable receptions for Broncos

Courtland Sutton Denver Broncos Courtland Sutton - The Canadian Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Courtland Sutton keeps topping himself, coming down with another inconceivable catch such as his toe-dragging touchdown grab against the Bills that Next Gen Stats called the most improbable catch it has ever tracked.

Or, how about his one-handed snare of Russell Wilson's 46-yard TD pass against the Chargers last weekend that he corralled despite being dragged down by a defender.

Sutton's most impressive snag, however, might just be the one he made on the sideline Sunday while catching his breath during the Broncos' 24-7 win.

Wilson was flushed from the pocket and threw the ball away toward his sideline. Nobody else so much as flinched, but Sutton, with his left hand on his hip for good measure, reached up with his right and nonchalantly snatched the football at its point.

“It was a cool little thing," Sutton said Wednesday. "I didn't think much of it. I just saw the ball coming and I said, ‘I think I can catch this.’ And I tried to make a play.”

Amazingly, he hauled in Wilson's throw just as he has all season with the ones that did count.

Sutton's career-high 10 TD receptions are tied with Mike Evans of the Buccaneers for second in the NFL behind Miami's Tyreek Hill, who has a dozen.

Nobody has had the degree of difficulty that Sutton has in getting his 10 scores, which are the most by far he has ever had in his six NFL seasons.

Sutton's best season came in 2019, when he made the Pro Bowl on the heels of a solid rookie season with 72 receptions for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

He blew out his right knee in the 2020 opener, then caught two touchdown passes in each of the past two seasons.

Those middling numbers, along with a contract that called for base salaries of around $14 million annually through 2025, led to rampant speculation that Sutton would be traded this year.

The Broncos (7-6) certainly are glad the 2018 second-round pick from SMU stayed put. He's both effective — he leads the league with eight red zone touchdown receptions — and he's efficient: He has one TD catch for every 5.3 receptions.

Although Next Gen Stats has tried to quantify Sutton's season — calculating, for instance, that his TD against the Bills had a 97% chance of landing incomplete — coach Sean Payton needs only to believe his own eyes.

“Man, he's playing well,” Payton said. “He's competitive. He's smart. He's got strong hands in traffic. And he's confident.”

While Broncos fans debate which of his touchdown grabs this season was his best, Sutton said he doesn't have a favorite.

“My favorite one hasn't happened yet,” he said. “I think it's coming at some point.”

Still, he senses his vast collection of improbable catches is starting to exasperate opponents who defend the pass perfectly, but still end up watching him spike the ball.

“I like that. I love that. It's a fun part of the game," Sutton said. “You never know what's going to happen next.”

NOTES: TE Greg Dulcich practiced Wednesday for the first time in more than two months. The second-year pro has played in just two games this season and left both before halftime with pulled hamstrings, which also waylaid his rookie season. The Broncos are hoping he can return and stretch the field. “It was cool seeing him at practice today, getting out there and moving around again,” Sutton said. “It's going to be even better once we get him active and get him back out on the field. I think he brings a whole different level of game plan for defenses. They have to account for him. If they try to leave him matched up with linebackers and safeties, it's not going to be a pretty day.”