KJ Hamler knows there's only one ball for all of the Broncos' offensive playmakers.
The second-year wide receiver is one of several weapons Denver has in its air attack, along with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and several others. It's an elite group with loads of talent, which begs the question: Are there enough balls to go around?
“When all of us are on the field, one of us is going to get the ball regardless," said Hamler, who had 30 receptions for 381 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. "I feel like it's a team effort. It's never been about just one of us. I think we have to stick together and do the things that we're taught to do and coached up to do. As long as everybody does their job, I think everybody can have a successful career and a successful year this year.”
Hamler, Jeudy, Patrick and Fant, of course, all played well together last year, but with Sutton returning from his ACL injury, it means some of those other four pass-catchers are likely going to get fewer targets.
Or, maybe not.
“Not really take away catches because the defense has to play us honest," Patrick said. "We have four guys on the field that can make a big play at any moment. There's not one guy that you can just shut down because all of us are capable of taking over. I think it's going to help a lot of us, and if we're on the field longer, that means there's going to be more passes and more targets for everybody. You can't compare what last year was because this is going to be a completely different team.”
Patrick has a point, as Sutton's return will likely open some of them up, like Jeudy, who sometimes got double-teamed last season, or Fant, who could maybe draw an easier matchup to get open with Sutton on the outside.
“A lot of people look at that as a negative. 'Oh, well it's going to be hard for everybody to get the ball,'" said Fant, who caught 62 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns last season. "Our offensive coordinator — Pat (Shurmur) — he does a great job with spreading the ball around. Like you said, those guys on the outside are going to open me up so much more than if it was just me trying to get open by myself."
And with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater currently fighting for the starting quarterback job, those weapons can make their lives a lot easier.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio isn't holding anything back for new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"It's all a team game," Fant said. "I love having those guys on the field and I respect those guys. I respect when they get catches, and they respect me when I get catches. We're all excited for each other. All that feeds off each other and we know that we're all going to get our moments. I'm excited to have them both back. That takes a lot of pressure off me and it takes a lot of pressure off the QBs. I think it's going to run pretty seamlessly when we get us all on the field.”
All in all, it's a good problem to have for the Broncos. Having depth at the skill position is always a good thing, especially after Sutton and Hamler both suffered injuries last season — Sutton with an ACL and Hamler with a hamstring. Both have been limited during OTAs.
But if they can stay relatively healthy next season and Lock and Bridgewater can deliver them the ball, the Broncos could have one of the better receiving units in the NFL.
"With the matchups, having (Sutton) and Tim and Jeudy on the outside and me on the inside. It's too many weapons, I think," Hamler said. "I think we all can do special things on the field. Everybody has their own cup of tea. I think it'll create big matchups for everybody.”