Tim Patrick just made the catch of the summer in Dove Valley.
The second-year Denver Broncos wide receiver pulled down an incredible one-handed touchdown reception during Saturday’s joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers. Patrick tipped the Brett Rypien throw to himself, secured it, and tapped his toes down in the back of the end zone.
Take a gander:
This is the first highlight-reel play of camp for Patrick, who appeared to have fallen to a distant fourth on the depth chart, behind locked-in starters Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. He was fending off impressive rookie WR Juwann Winfree, who caught Denver’s game-winning touchdown pass in the preseason-opener.
Patrick, who entered the NFL in 2017 as an undrafted free agent, spent part of his rookie campaign in San Francisco, so this is somewhat of a revenge matchup for the 25-year-old Utah product. He was fired up throughout Friday’s practice, often chirping at his one-time teammates.
The session vindicated the Patrick, whom Broncos head coach Vic Fangio subtly tweaked through the media earlier this month, claiming, “Bigger receivers that don’t run fast better catch everything,” in response to a media query about Patrick’s sure hands.
Fangio failed to eat the requisite crow despite an impressive showing from the 6-foot-4, 212-pound pass-catcher.
“I didn’t see the offense today,” he said. “It’s occasionally OK to dig somebody. Isn’t it?”
Patrick’s Projected Role
Considering the Broncos will carry a minimum of five wideouts on the 53-man roster, it’s safe to scribble Patrick’s name in pen. He’ll operate as the No. 4 or No. 5 in the pecking order — ahead of or behind Winfree — and figures to eclipse the 23 catches, 315 yards and one touchdown he totaled last year.
The collective goal? To deploy as many weapons as possible for quarterback Joe Flacco, giving the former Super Bowl MVP a well-rounded supporting cast. Runners. Receivers. Speedsters. Chain-movers. Game-breakers.
“This offense can definitely break down defenses,” Sanders opined. “I think [WR] DaeSean Hamilton, [WR] Courtland [Sutton], [WR] Tim Patrick. I think if we all work together, we can really make this offense go. I’m talking explosion plays. I’m talking making guys look bad in terms of choice routes. All types of different ways to break down the defense if—how they want to play us. I’m excited about it. I’m excited about keep working and getting better. Growing chemistry with Joe [Flacco] and see where the chips line up for Monday night.”
Motivated to Perform
Beyond his own coach’s dig, Patrick has incentive to turn in a career season. Incentive which came from within, an internal battle to become the best the Broncos have at the position — a “sleeper having the most yards,’’ he told 9News’ Mike Klis.
Although he’ll hit exclusive-rights free agency again in 2020, giving him little negotiating power, Patrick aims to show he’s an integral offensive component, a block on which the franchise can build, now and over the long-term.
“Got to keep switching it up,” he told Klis. “I showed last year that I was ready to play, that I could play in this league.
“And now building on this year, my goals have changed. Not just making the team. It’s yards, touchdowns, wins, playoffs, Super Bowls, all that.
“Every year you have to elevate yourself. If you stay the same you see all the rookies out here this year, they’re coming to take your spot.’’
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL