ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Wide receiver
A lingering foot injury hindered Thomas from starting his career off right after he was drafted as the 22nd player in the 2010 NFL draft.
In 2011, an injury to his Achilles heel caused him to miss all of the preseason and the first five weeks of the regular season.
Thomas in good health is a good sign for Broncos Country.
“I think I’ll have a good year if I just stay healthy and go out and do what I’m supposed to do,” Thomas said after Friday's training camp practice. “I just want to stay healthy. It’s my first year being able to come to OTAs and minicamp and start training camp (healthy). So that’s my main goal.”
At 6-foot-3-inches and 229 pounds, Thomas has great size for a wideout. But his teammates say he has much more than that.
“He’s one of the most athletic guys I’ve been around,” fellow wideout
“(His ceiling is) as high as you want to make it,” Bailey said. “It’s really up to him. He has the talent and the raw skills.”
Other than the obvious difference in health, Bailey pointed out a huge difference in Thomas’ game that will make him a more complete receiver heading into 2012.
“(Route-running) was the biggest thing for him because he’s a bigger guy,” Bailey said. “Bigger guys struggle running routes most of the time. He’s on top of it now. He looks like one of the best now because he’s running his routes as crisp and can be and he’s catching the ball.”
After seeing plenty of Thomas on the practice fields and a good bit of quarterback
“As long as (Thomas) is healthy, he’s going to be out there,” Bailey said. “I know Peyton and he loves his No. 1s out there. When he was in Indy, they never went to the bench. I don’t expect anything less now.”
Though it’s the pair’s first year together, the chemistry between the quarterback and wide receiver is “wonderful," Thomas said.
“We got better,” he said. “We started OTAs and (the timing) was behind, but now it’s like night and day. By the end of minicamp it was good, and I feel like we’re getting better.”
Even though Thomas has just started working with Manning, the third-year receiver has already made a mark on the four-time NFL MVP.
“I’m getting to know Demaryius,” Manning said. “You guys have seen him prior to now, but I’m just seeing him. You see that just like me, there are different phases. There’s a mini-camp/OTA sort of tempo and development, and then there’s training camp and the preseason, regular season, and then, you hope playoffs."
"Demaryius is going to play a key role for us this year.”
Though Thomas still carries a body type more similar to a defensive end than a wide receiver, he slimmed down this offseason to increase his quickness and stamina.
“I think it helped my cardio, my quickness, and being able to run down the field in the mornings,” Thomas said. (My conditioning is) probably four to five plays longer.”
The size, speed, skills and athleticism that his teammates speak of make Thomas an ally to any member of the Denver Broncos. Unless, of course, they end up on the wrong end of one of his patented stiff arms in practice.
“Oh God,” Bailey said. “I hope not. I want nothing to do with that.”