2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Denver tight end Julius Thomas no longer a no-name

    2013-09-10 02:33

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Julius Thomas figures only friends and family drafted him in their fantasy football leagues this season. One catch in two pro seasons didn't exactly make him a tantalizing target.

He certainly was a bull's-eye for Peyton Manning in the NFL's kickoff.

He caught the first two of the Denver quarterback's record-tying seven touchdown throws in the Broncos' 49-27 rout of the Ravens.

His five-catch, 110-yard breakout performance showed fantasy fans and real opponents alike that Thomas can be just as big a part of the Broncos' plans this season as their trio of wide receivers.

Not that Thomas was ever doubted in Denver, mind you.

The Broncos' brass stuck with the former college basketball power forward who got hurt in his second game as a rookie in 2011, and Thomas returned the favor with a dogged work ethic even as an afterthought.

Finally healthy after spending the bulk of his first two seasons in the pros dealing with a bum right ankle, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Thomas treated every practice this summer like it was game day.

Not only was he a late bloomer - he only played one year of college football after exhausting his basketball eligibility at Portland State - but he got hurt on his one and only NFL catch after the Broncos selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, hoping they'd landed the next Antonio Gates.

After flashing enormous potential in overpowering safeties and eluding linebackers, Thomas injured his right ankle when Bengals linebacker Manny Lawson tackled him after a 5-yard catch in his second NFL game.

His career was stuck in neutral after that. He needed an operation last year and played in just four games while tight ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme combined for 93 catches, 911 yards and seven touchdown catches in 2012.

No matter: playing against the NFL's second-best defense last season while running with the scout team helped Thomas hone his skills, calm his nerves and build his confidence.

Thomas took advantage of injuries to Tamme and Dreessen this summer to earn Manning's trust and a prominent role in Adam Gase's turbocharged offense.

When Broncos Executive Vice President John Elway remarked recently that he was ``truly jealous of the weapons that Peyton gets to throw to,'' he made sure to mention he was including Thomas in that equation.

``He obviously knows a lot more about football than I do and to have his confidence, that means a lot,'' Thomas said. ``This is my third year, but really I'm pretty inexperienced and when times get tough, I'm sure that's going to be something I have in my back pocket.''

Thomas had TD catches of 24 and 23 yards before the Broncos roared back from a 17-14 halftime deficit Thursday night with their biggest onslaught in nearly a half-century - the only time they ever scored more points came in a 50-34 win over San Diego on Oct. 6, 1963.

``Someone said it was 718 days since I last caught a pass,'' Thomas said. ``It's tough to stay focused and keep remembering what you're working for, but I made it through and it feels good to have all that behind me.''

Fantasy players aren't the only ones who took notice of Thomas in Week 1. New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell surely did, too.

When the Broncos visit the Giants next weekend for the latest Manning Brothers matchup, Fewell will have to devise a plan to slow down not only Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but also Julius Thomas, who in many ways can be the most menacing of them all. That's because of the matchup problems he creates, the nifty moves he honed on the hardwood and the growing rapport with his quarterback.

``I'm not sure how they will answer it, or if they will, but it will be interesting to see how teams play Julius all season,'' Manning said. ``He is a big guy, he definitely will make teams have a conversation, and that is what you want. You want guys that make teams have a discussion. `How are we going to handle this guy?' He's a big guy.''

Thomas knows his number can be called one week, somebody else's the next.

After standing on the sideline for so long, sharing the spotlight isn't a bother.

``We have so many weapons on offense. I wouldn't want to be a defensive coordinator trying to figure out what it's going to take to slow us down,'' Thomas said.

NOTES: Missing Monday's practice were CB Champ Bailey (foot), KR Trindon Holliday (leg), MLB Wesley Woodyard (ankle) and CB Omar Bolden (shoulder).

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tom BradyJul 27 02:02p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension still has not been announced, and the NFL is now open to talking with the NFL Players Association [ More ]

Doug MartinJul 27 12:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin could be in line for a big, bounce-back year, in the opinion of beat writer Roy Cummings.

Casey MatthewsJul 27 09:12a

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve due to a hip injury Sunday, July 26.

Casey MatthewsJul 26 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury that occurred during the team's offseason program.

Blair WalshJul 26 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings PK Blair Walsh signed a four-year contract extension Sunday, July 26, worth $14 million. The deal includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money.

Gosder CherilusJul 26 12:32p

Indianapolis Colts OT Gosder Cherilus was released Sunday, July 26.

Percy HarvinJul 25 09:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Percy Harvin required detailed instruction on how to run routes during OTAs, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News believes Harvin will open the year as [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsJul 25 08:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is not receiving any first-team reps despite RB Le'Veon Bell facing a three-game suspension, head coach Mike Tomlin said. Tomlin also said he is [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 24 07:22p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Friday, July 24, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Isaiah CrowellJul 24 07:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson will play a prominent role in Cleveland's offense in his rookie year, but RB Isaiah Crowell is still the favorite to start. Johnson is [ More ]

Benjamin WatsonJul 24 06:22p

New Orleans Saints TE Benjamin Watson is slated to start at tight end over TE Josh Hill, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.

Josh FreemanJul 24 04:52p

Miami Dolphins QB Josh Freeman was released Friday, July 24.

Nate WashingtonJul 24 03:52p

Houston Texans WR Nate Washington is projected to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind WR DeAndre Hopkins and ahead of WR Cecil Shorts, according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.

Kelvin BenjaminJul 24 02:32p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin said he is currently at his playing weight a week before training camp begins. Benjamin said he has changed his conditioning and diet in order to stay in shape.

Junior GaletteJul 24 02:32p

New Orleans Saints LB Junior Galette was released Friday, July 24, according to a source.

Jabari PriceJul 24 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings CB Jabari Price was suspended two games for violating the personal conduct policy.

Derek WolfeJul 24 01:52p

Denver Broncos DE Derek Wolfe was suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Wolfe said he took a medication he didn't know was banned.

Sean SmithJul 24 10:02a

Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith was suspended three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Michael HillJul 23 05:42p

Washington Redskins RB Michael Hill was waived Thursday, July 23.

Earl ThomasJul 23 12:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) isn't expected to be cleared for training camp, and his status is questionable for Week 1.

Letroy GuionJul 23 12:02p

Green Bay Packers DT Letroy Guion has been suspended three games Thursday, July 23, for his Feb. 3 arrest. Guion plans to appeal.

Tom BradyJul 23 11:32a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was the subject of a settlement offer from the NFL Players Association to the league last week, but the offer was met with [ More ]

Mike TomlinJul 23 10:22a

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agreed to an extension Thursday, July 23, through the 2018 season.

Jadeveon ClowneyJul 22 05:12p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) looks spectacular, according to a team doctor. Clowney is seven months removed from microfracture surgery on his knee. It was previously reported that [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 22 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready for training camp, according to wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan added that Lee will be managed in order to preserve his health.

Sam BradfordJul 22 03:32p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be ready to participate once training camp begins. Bradford has been rehabilitating his knee after suffering a second anterior cruciate [ More ]

Tyler EifertJul 22 03:22p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

L. TaliaferroJul 22 01:22p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to be pushed by RB Javorius Allen for the No. 2 running back job, but he likely will enter training camp as [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 22 12:32p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (back) met with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, July 21, but the two sides have not agreed to a deal at this point. Gresham underwent back [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 22 12:12p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said his hamstring is feeling a lot better than it did earlier this offseason. Beckham missed some of the offseason workouts because of a hamstring problem.

Bishop SankeyJul 22 08:32a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey is the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1 because he has a year of experience and a full offseason under his belt.

Justin HunterJul 22 02:02a

Tennessee Titans WR Justin Hunter is expected to take part in training camp when it opens, as the team will let the legal process play out, according to a [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group