Broncos star receiver Thomas hasn’t scored in nearly a year
By Arnie Stapleton
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Demaryius Thomas is on pace for his usual 1,000-yard season but the Denver Broncos’ star receiver is closing in on another landmark that’s both unwanted and unfathomable.
It’s been nearly a year since Thomas’ last touchdown catch.
“I know, I know, it’s been a while,” said Thomas, who scored 52 times in his first 95 career NFL games before failing to reach the end zone in his last 13. “I don’t know how to feel anymore. I heard a lot of people talking about it. It’s been a while.”
Ever since his 2-yard TD grab from Trevor Siemian at New Orleans last Nov. 13.
Teammates say Thomas has never displayed any frustration over his drought and coaches say the eighth-year pro who’s the longest tenured member of the team isn’t one to beg them for more chances.
“No, Demaryius doesn’t get frustrated. At least he doesn’t show it,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “He might be mad, but he’ll still smile at you and walk away.”
Coach Vance Joseph said the Broncos just haven’t been able to make opponents pay for scheming every week to keep Thomas from hurting them.
“He is a No. 1 receiver in our offense and game plans are made to stop him from scoring touchdowns,” Joseph said. “Our overall goal is to win games, whoever scores the touchdowns. He’s one of our best players. So, the more he sores the more we can win. Our pass game goes through 88 (Thomas) and 10 (Sanders). However the play us, we have to take advantage of it.”
Thomas’ lack of outward emotion doesn’t mean he’s not burning on the inside.
“I’m determined to end it,” said Thomas, whose next chance comes Sunday when the Broncos (3-4) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) . “I’ve been determined to end it every week. It just doesn’t work out that way. Half the time, it’s about winning. But as a receiver, you do want to score touchdowns. I do want to score.”
It hasn’t helped Thomas that Sanders has missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle. (He’s questionable for Sunday), but even against constant double-teams, the Broncos have been trying to get their 6-foot-3, 230-pound receiver the ball in the red zone.
“I think it’s a matter of when the time comes to make the plays, make the throws and win versus certain coverages,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “It’s not that we’re not trying to get him the ball. You look at targets in the red area, he’s up there. I think there are certain plays he might say that he didn’t win on a release whether it was a decision we made in progression whether there was a protection breakdown.
“I think with Emmanuel and D.T., there are plenty of plays that are asterisked with those guys’ names on it that we’re trying to get them the ball. A lot of the passing game, with those two special players, not just Demaryius, but with Emmanuel, we’re trying to get those two guys the ball often.”
When the Broncos practiced this week’s red zone plays on Thursday, Sanders took a break from pestering the coaching staff to target him.
“Most of the time I’m in the back like, ‘Give me that play! Give me that play!” Sanders said.
Not this week.
“I was like, ‘Hey, give it to D.T. give it to D.T.” Sanders said. “He’s getting to go a full year without a touchdown, so we have to change that. I’m praying that he goes on a run and has — look at that guy in Houston. He has what? Thirteen catches and seven touchdowns — Will Fuller. Hopefully, Demaryius can be that guy and I came come up next and do the same thing.”
Thomas isn’t the only one aching to get back into the end zone.
The Broncos’ offense has been so inefficient that no wide receiver has scored a touchdown since Week 2, when Sanders caught a pair of TD passes.
This week, the Broncos benched the turnover-prone Siemian after their fourth loss in five games and promoted backup Brock Osweiler , who went 5-2 during their Super Bowl-winning season two years ago in place of an injured Peyton Manning.
Having a history with Osweiler should make for a smooth transition, Thomas said.
“Yes, it helps big time,” Thomas said. “We’re excited about seeing what he can do come Sunday.”