2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos' Demaryius Thomas excels at screen passes

    2013-11-14 02:33

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

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Demaryius Thomas keeps getting showered with praise and passes.

He was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career after helping Denver beat San Diego 28-20 Sunday, when he became the first Broncos receiver in a decade with a trio of TD receptions.

Thomas received a hearty pat on the back from interim coach Jack Del Rio for his acrobatic move on his first score in which he switched the football into his left hand as his momentum carried him out of bounds and swiped it across the pylon like a checkout clerk scanning a can of soda.

''I told him, `Man, that was amazing,''' Del Rio said. ''That was really good to watch in slow-mo. What a tremendous use of body control. With his size and speed and the angle he was at, to be able to coordinate himself and stay in bounds and get that thing across the pylon was just amazing.''

Thomas admitted he's not supposed to expose the football like that, but said instincts took over ''and I just wanted to get into the end zone.''

It may have been No. 1 on Del Rio's list of the terrific touchdowns, but it wasn't even Thomas' favorite score of the day.

That came early in the third quarter when he lined up in the backfield to Peyton Manning's right, then cut in front of the quarterback as he went in motion to the left side. Gathering in the screen pass, Thomas twisted upfield and turned on the jets. He was still accelerating when he crossed the goal line 34 yards later.

''Smoke screens are my favorite thing to do,'' Thomas said. ''After that catch, I feel, is my thing.''

It's easy to see why Thomas says he's at his best with the ball in his hands - he leads NFL receivers with 377 yards after the catch.

At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Thomas is the biggest and probably strongest receiver Manning's ever played with, and he might just be the fastest, too.

All those attributes show up on the bubble screens.

''He's got great speed and he gets the ball in his hands and he's got a good feel for reading those blocks, which I think is a gift there. ... He's got a good feel for reading runs,'' Manning said.

''It probably goes back to all the runs he had to practice at Georgia Tech - they threw it like one time every three games,'' Manning added with a laugh. ''So, he probably had to learn a lot about reading blocks for the running backs. But boy, he gets it in his hands and he's got great speed and power and it's fun to watch once he gets it in his hands, I'll say that.''

Thomas said Manning's estimate isn't that far from the truth. He excelled in the Yellow Jackets' run-oriented offense by making the most of every chance he got.

He caught just 46 passes his breakout junior season, turning those catches into 1,154 yards and eight TDs.

Not much changed with Tim Tebow under center early in his Denver career, but now he hardly ever faces single coverage anymore, and working two seasons with Manning, he said, has turned him into a better, smarter receiver.

He said Manning told him he'd better figure out how to get open even if he's double-covered.

And he has.

Right before his first score Sunday, Thomas hauled in a nifty 28-yard over-the-shoulder catch with a cornerback and safety both bearing down on him.

Thomas has 55 catches for 793 yards this season and his nine TD receptions are tied with teammates Welker and Julius Thomas for tops in the AFC.

He finished with seven catches for 108 yards against the Chargers, earning him his first Player of the Week honor, which came as a surprise to Del Rio, who figured he must have had a nice collection of those by now.

''Really? It does surprise me, because he's had some monster games in the two years I've been here,'' Del Rio said. ''Happy for him because he's a heck of a football player. He's a good, good man. Doesn't say a lot, just kind of comes in and goes to work every day, usually with a smile on his face. Yeah, I'm proud of him.''

From his vantage point as defensive coordinator, Del Rio said he's seen great growth in Thomas ever since Manning's arrival in 2012.

''I've seen him put in the work,'' Del Rio said. ''And he is a horse. I mean, he's a big guy that is fast and can catch, and those guys are tough to deal with in this league and he's one of the special ones.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is out for Week 13 Thursday, Nov. 27. His ankle isn't responding well enough, but the hope is to return for Week 14.

R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is highly unlikely to return to the team next season, sources within the organization said. Head coach Jay Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder [ More ]

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III needs more seasoning, and he'll likely do it from the bench for the rest of this season, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions this year, but all of them haven't been game-changing turnovers. In Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez thrived on [ More ]

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