ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –
needed to be better. Both
coach Vance Joseph and GM John Elway said it.
And Thomas, as the team’s longest-tenured player, could have taken umbrage given he wasn’t the only down part of the offense that was part of the Broncos’ 5-11 2017 season.
But he didn’t. He felt the sting of the truth.
“I do agree,” Thomas said. “I need to be better. I want to be better. I know I can be better. You can’t be afraid to say none of that as a player, you got to look at it and he honest. I can be better.”
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Will J.J. Watt ever be the same? • Demaryius Thomas gets a push from Broncos' rookies • 1,000 yards just a number for Davante Adams • Chiefs D is still a work in progress • Tannehill vows to be even more vocal In the Broncos’ system-wide struggles on offense last season, that included a three-man rotation at quarterback, Thomas finished with 83 catches for 949 yards. Not only was it the first time since 2011 he hadn’t finished with at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards, but there was simply a lack of impact. It was a lack of those plays, the ones that once had Peyton Manning calling him a "rare player,” that forced defensive coordinators to rewind the video over and over again. In short, the Broncos didn’t stress defenses enough elsewhere in the formation so Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders spent much of the year running their routes against a steady diet of double coverage. “I still feel like I have to get open, no matter what,” Thomas said. “I still do, but things have changed this year and it’s for the better.” “D.T. he’s got to be that Pro Bowl wide receiver for us,” Joseph said. “He knows it, we’ve talked about it, and we expect big things.” That’s partially because Thomas and Sanders could have some help. The Broncos used two of their first six selections in the 2018 draft this past April on wide receivers – Courtland Sutton (second round) and DaeSean Hamilton (fourth round). As training camp rolled along, the two rookies have done more than help. The two have actually pushed Thomas and Sanders to lift their own games to remain the two alphas at the position. A steady diet of acrobatic catches from Sutton, as well as Hamilton’s highly developed, beyond-his-years route running, have quickly gotten Thomas’ attention. And Thomas is willing to admit, as he’s been seen running sprints in between drills in practice, that the new kids have his attention. “A lot of guys would probably say that it doesn’t (affect them) because they’re younger guys, but those two guys came in like pros,” Thomas said. “They’re taking care of their business, they’re on time to everything and they’re making plays. They’re pushing us, and that’s good for us. We need it. We want to push each other and make each other better ... I'll just say it because it's true.” That is vintage Thomas. Unfailingly honest about what he expects from himself, and others, in the offense. He still believes he can “be that No. 1 type receiver,” and that the Broncos will be improved on offense with Case Keenum at quarterback. And maybe, he and Sanders can show the young guys how it’s done. “… We push each other,” Thomas said of his relationship with Sanders. “We stay on top of each other in the offseason, make sure we’re healthy for the season. [We] do the right thing. We’re trying to be one of the best duos that’s ever done it.”