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Cody Latimer says confidence issues are 'in the past'

Cody Latimer, center, has a tough fight if he hopes to make the Broncos' 53-man roster. Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There is a crossroads of sorts in front of Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer.

Latimer entered the league as the Broncos' second-round pick in 2014 -- the 56th pick overall -- with optimism in tow. He was a big, strong wide receiver who repeatedly wrestled the ball away from defensive backs in scoring situations in college, and the expectation was he would quickly find his way into the regular rotation with Broncos.

But that hasn't happened. As he moves through his fourth training camp, Latimer has wrestled with his confidence at times on offense -- he has 16 catches in three seasons -- and now finds himself part of one of the most hotly contested position groups on the roster.

"I know it, you just have to stand in that group to see we've got a lot of players," Latimer said. "But I've got my confidence, it's there, there's no going back. I know what I can do, I know this offense, just play fast. I'm ready, I'm ready to go. That confidence stuff is in the past, it's in the past. I go out here and line up, put me wherever, I go out and play ball."

The Broncos do have a crowd at receiver with plenty of still-unanswered questions about how things will shake out beyond Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. To that end, Bennie Fowler has worked as the third receiver much of the time early in camp.

Jordan Taylor flashes a leaping catch in traffic at least once a practice, and the Broncos used two draft picks on wide receivers this past April -- Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie -- who already figure prominently in the return game.

That leaves Latimer, who has never had more than eight receptions in a season, trying once again to carve out enough of a role on offense to go with his mainstay status on special teams. When special teams coordinator Brock Olivo was asked this week about players who could be a special-teams captain, Latimer was one of the players he named. Latimer said his work on special teams over the last three season has helped him work through the rough spots on offense.

"Before I looked at it like I haven't had much production on offense so it’s what’s kept me in the league," Latimer said. "That's how I have to do it on offense, I have to embrace it the same way. When you're back on the wall, against the wall, and you're not producing on offense the way you're supposed to, you don't want to be cut. So I embrace special teams. I understand a lot of people have built careers on special teams."

Special teams will likely determine how many receivers the Broncos keep when they cut the roster to 53 players. In recent seasons, they have routinely had five or six on the roster, but because of injuries in 2016 they had eight on the roster at one point.

Latimer acknowledges that he struggled with confidence over the last three seasons, two of those years coming with Peyton Manning at quarterback, but he believes he's a different player going into the most difficult battle he's faced for a roster spot.

"It's a full room," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "... You can see how hard people are competing there because they know it's a full room. But I think Cody is one of the players there who has had a hell of a camp, but we have some players there who are having a hell of a camp."

If Latimer can fight his way far enough up the depth chart to make the roster, it could pay off, as he's an unrestricted free agent after the season.

"Previous years I felt like I wasn't doing enough on offense and I had to make special teams work," Latimer said. "Not now. I still approach special teams with everything I have because that's what got me on the field. But I like what I can do in this offense. I just have to be consistent, bringing it every day and keep making plays."