Denver’s playoff odds just took a massive hit.
The Broncos believe wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders tore his left Achilles tendon at practice on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In his post-practice press conference, head coach Vance Joseph said the injury “looked bad,” but Sanders still hadn’t undergone an MRI.
Sanders was running routes in the early stages of practice when his Achilles blew out on a non-contact drill. He slammed his helmet on the ground and was helped into the locker room without putting any weight on his left leg.
After trading star receiver Demaryius Thomas in October, the Broncos will be left with a slew of inexperienced receivers to finish the season.
Rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are expected to fill the top spots along with second-year receiver Tim Patrick. River Cracraft, who was called up from the practice squad last week, is also on the active roster.
Combined, those young receivers have 692 yards.
With Sanders almost guaranteed to land on the injured reserve, the Broncos claimed receiver Andre Holmes off Waivers just two hours after Sanders went down in practice.
Holmes, who came into the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent, adds experience to the young receiving corps. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver has played in 91 games in his career with 25 starts. He has 127 catches for 1,739 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Broncos also have Chad Hansen, who played 15 games for the Jets last year, on the practice squad.
This is Sanders’ fifth season in Denver. He was the Steelers third-round draft pick in 2010 and caught 161 passes during his four seasons in Pittsburgh.
He arrived in Denver as a free agent signing prior to the 2014 season. He has 374 catches for 4,994 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns as a Bronco. This season, he caught 71 passes for 868 yards and four touchdowns.