ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – It’s a new year, and while many of his teammates talk about putting 2015 in the rearview, Emmanuel Sanders is having none of it. He doesn’t want to forget anything about the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl season.
What remains of the roster returned to work this week amid questions about who will be throwing all the passes in 2016 when the Broncos open defense of their title against Carolina, the powerhouse they upset in Super Bowl 50 thanks to Von Miller.
There’s still some spoils to enjoy from their title run like that upcoming trip to the White House and those diamond-studded championship rings that will be arriving soon.
“I don’t think you ever put 2015 just ‘behind you’ because every day I’m going to go home and talk to my ring,” Sanders insisted. “I’m going to lay next to it, sleep next to it and eat breakfast next to it.'”
Then, he feigned being overtaken by emotion.
“I might start crying just talking about it,” Sanders said before breaking out into his trademark grin.
It’s no joke that he’ll be thinking about that special season for a long, long time.
“It’s one of those seasons that gives you confidence, that allows you to poke your chest out. I’m going to be 60 years old and say, ‘Hey, 2015!’ I’m never going to put that behind me,” Sanders said. “I don’t ever want to put it back. There have been a lot of seasons that I do want to put behind me.”
Like 2014, his breakout season in Denver after four years in Pittsburgh. Despite setting career highs with 101 catches for 1,404 yards and nine TDs that year, the Broncos were bounced right out of the playoffs by Indianapolis in the divisional round.
Sanders put together another solid season last year, highlighted by his 181-yard day in Pittsburgh. But he really rose in the playoffs, hauling in 16 passes from Peyton Manning for 230 yards while star receiver Demaryius Thomas all but disappeared in the postseason with just seven grabs for 60 yards, including a single 8-yard catch in the Super Bowl.
Sanders led Denver with six catches for 83 yards in their 24-10 win over the Panthers in the Super Bowl.
Afterward, he asked GM John Elway if he was able to enjoy his first championship.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, but I was thinking about that next one,'” Sanders said. “And that’s how I feel right now. We’re out there. We’re working hard and thinking about the next one. I want to bring another parade to the center of Denver.”
To that end, Sanders helped organize workouts in California with Mark Sanchez, whom the Broncos acquired after Manning retired and Brock Osweiler bolted to Houston a month after enjoying their million-fan parade in downtown Denver.
Sanders sounds as though he’d be perfectly happy if Sanchez is under center this season.
“I can tell he wants to be a leader on this team, he wants to be the quarterback and he wants to be the guy,” Sanders said. “I was impressed by his arm strength. I was impressed with the throws he was making. I’ve been here around the locker room and he’s been spending extra time in the facility. That’s the type of guy that we need.”
The Broncos have talked about trading for Colin Kaepernick and have entertained numerous other options at quarterback.
“You really don’t think about that,” Sanders said. “Right now we’ve got Trevor Siemian and we’ve got Mark Sanchez. That’s all we can focus on. Whatever the guys upstairs do, that’s what they do.”
The Broncos return nine starters from one of the best defenses in NFL history, including Miller, who hasn’t signed his exclusive franchise tag and is spending his offseason appearing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” rather than working out with his teammates.
Denver’s offense, on the other hand, has undergone an overhaul.
In addition to Osweiler, half a dozen of the Super Bowl starters have left.
Manning retired; Louis Vasquez and Owen Daniels were cut; Ryan Harris, Evan Mathis, Vernon Davis left via free agency; and Michael Schofield has been bumped down the depth chart because of free agent arrivals.
That leaves Sanders, Thomas, running back C.J. Anderson and center Matt Paradis.
Sanders said he doesn’t mind all the talk about Denver’s great defense overshadowing its offense.
“Defense wins championships and they showed it,” Sanders said. “I was talking to Mark and I said, ‘Listen, you’ve got a (great) defense behind you. All you have to do is take care of the football and we’ll win a lot of games.'”
– By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Sports Writer
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