By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Courtland Sutton wouldn’t be where he is without Demaryius Thomas, and the sensational rookie wide receiver is showing his appreciation.
Sutton was spotted on social media wearing a Thomas jersey before the Week 9 matchup between Denver and the Houston Texans, where Thomas now calls home.
Selected in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, Sutton was immediately billed as Thomas’ long-term successor due to their similarities in size and catch radius. The torch-passing took place sooner than anticipated, with the student surpassing the teacher. At the time of Tuesday’s trade, which sent Thomas to the Texans for a fourth-round choice, Sutton (324) was approaching Thomas (402) in receiving yards despite logging 19 fewer catches.
Head coach Vance Joseph admitted Sutton’s rapid development — and penchant for snatching opposing defender’s souls — went into the team’s decision to shake up its WR corps.
“He’s a second-round pick that probably should’ve been a first-round pick,” Joseph said. “We knew he was talented, but without coaching the guy and actually having him in camp, you don’t know what you’ve got. Obviously, he’s a gifted guy. He’s not a finished product by any means, but our hope is that he’s going to be special. That’s our hope. He has to continue to work, to perfect his routes and to continue to play hard and to study. We’ll see, but it’s his time, so he has plenty of reps and time to prove he’s that guy we think he can be.”
Even though Thomas knew his time in Denver was coming to end, the 30-year-old veteran never treated his replacement like a rookie who’d yet to cut his teeth. Rather, Sutton attached to his hip and picked his brain — be it during training camp, the preseason or weekly regular season practices. The two became inseparable by choice, not default.
And there was a vast transference of knowledge.
“The thing he used to always tell me at games was do my job,” Sutton said. “It’s something very simple, but in this business, because ultimately at the end of the day this is a business, if I’m not doing my job or somebody else isn’t doing their job, then people get fired and they lose their jobs. He would always tell me, don’t worry so much about that over there or what’s going on over there, do what you’re supposed to be doing on each specific play and you’ll be fine. I take that with me and I even remind him of it. I used to remind him of it on some days that he would get a little upset on certain plays or something that was going on in practice. I’d be like ‘Hey, remember what you always tell me, just do my job and we’ll be good.’”
In this business, if you want respect, you must give respect.
Sutton, as he’s proven, is a quick learner.