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Cody Latimer ready for big jump, Broncos' Kubiak says

The Denver Broncos' offense that broke records in 2013 has since lost Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas and slot machine Wes Welker, leaving a prime opportunity for 2014 second-round draft pick Cody Latimer.

New coach Gary Kubiak made it clear Tuesday that the organization is counting on Latimer to ascend to the No. 3 receiver role in 2015.

"I think it's time for him to make a big jump," Kubiak said, via The Denver Post. "Not just a little jump. Obviously his play time is fixing to pick up, and it needs to pick up, so we need him to make a big jump in year two."

Latimer was relegated to the scout team as a rookie, learning the playbook so he could gain Peyton Manning's trust.

"Peyton has so many checks, and he makes so many calls on the field, you have to be ready," Latimer recently explained to the Mike High Report. "He wants you to be on cue with him, and if you make a mistake, he doesn't like that."

As Ravens offensive coordinator last year, Kubiak spent a day with Latimer leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.

"We really, really liked him. He has a lot of ability," Kubiak said a month ago. "Usually a player like that is going to make his biggest jump from year one to year two."

General manager John Elway also has "high expectations" after watching Latimer "work his tail off" as a rookie.

"He's a big, fast, strong wide receiver that we really believe is going to be help us win," Elway said. "He's got the ability now to catch the ball and get open, but also he does a great job on fourth down and has the ability to run after the catch. ... He'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

It will be interesting to see how Latimer is utilized in Denver. Kubiak's scheme is run-centric with more two-wide receiver sets than the one Manning operated under Adam Gase.

Expect Latimer to play outside opposite Demaryius Thomas in three-wide sets, with Emmanuel Sanders moving to the slot.

Much like the Saints, the Broncos are altering their formula after coming up short with a philosophy tilted heavily toward offense.

Even if Manning is more reliant on defense and a ball-control approach, he needs Latimer to emerge as a reliable third option in an aerial attack that struggled down the stretch last season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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