Emmanuel Sanders set to start on Monday Night Football

Nov 25, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) is unable to pull in this reception in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In a tweet that many would’ve thought impossible even just a few months ago, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders announced that he would be starting on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

To put it plainly, Sanders’ journey through rehabbing his torn Achilles that he suffered just nine months ago has been nothing short of miraculous. Tearing an Achilles tendon is no minor injury for anyone, let alone an All-Pro wide receiver who depends heavily on the tendon to make cuts and to stop on a dime. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos and their medical staff manage Sanders’ game reps after returning from such a serious injury so quickly.

There’s no question that Sanders has seen some very productive years as a Broncos wideout, and that his presence on the field can be helpful for a Broncos offense that has shown promise, but still needs some work. There’s also no question that there has been a Herculean effort to be able to get to the point where he’s at right now.

The main question is how quickly can he get back into the flow of an NFL game without pressing too hard.

The mere fact that Sanders has worked his way back from an Achilles injury in less than a year is already almost on the level of Adrian Petersons’ miraculous return from a torn ACL in 2011 and 2012. Obviously the injuries and players are different, but everyone at Dove Valley from John Elway on down to the fans tailgating in the parking lot should take heart in the fact that the early returns on Sanders have been promising.

“I thought he would make it back quicker than most and he has,” head coach Vic Fangio said. “He looks fine. I’ve asked the guys that have been here in the past to compare him to what he’s been in the past because I don’t have a past for him, and they don’t see any difference right now.”

There shouldn’t be too much doubt that Sanders can do things like make the necessary cuts to run routes and evade defenders, he’s shown that he is physically capable of doing that in practice. The next big hurdle for him to clear is doing that for three hours on Sundays against NFL competition, and Monday night is a huge step towards that end. If Sanders returns with even a fraction of the productivity that he’s experienced during his time in Denver, he’ll be a shoe in for Comeback Player of The Year; but in order to do that he needs to stay on the field, and tonight is an important develepmont in the buildup to a potentially monumental return.