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Arriving in Style

Posted Sep 19, 2010

Demaryius Thomas landed at the top of the stat sheet in his first appearance as an NFL wide receiver.


DENVER -- Demaryius Thomas had waited long enough.

After missing last week's game -- and every preseason game -- with a foot injury, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket stung the Seahawks and made his NFL debut in the team's home opener on Sunday.

Denver's No. 1 pick of the 2010 NFL Draft caught three more passes and tallied 30 more receiving yards than anyone on the field in the team's 31-14 victory. He finished the afternoon with eight receptions for 97 yards and one touchdown.

"I think you saw a little bit of what we think he can be." Head Coach Josh McDaniels said.

On his final reception of the day, Thomas flew past Seattle's press coverage and reeled in a 21-yard pass from Kyle Orton for the first six points of his NFL career.

"He's a big-bodied guy," McDaniels said. "They got up there to try to jam him, and he just kind of shrugged the guy off."

Thomas stands at 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, but the receiver's bulk doesn't limit his style of football. Both McDaniels and Orton commented on the speed that defies Thomas' frame.

"I think there are some bigger receivers in this league that really, their route tree is very limited," the coach said. "We've never considered him one of those players. We've always tried to give him as much as he can handle."

Orton targeted his new weapon a team-high nine times -- four more than any other member of the corps -- and didn't ease his receiver into the game. Thomas saw his first action a third-and-14 in the second quarter. He jogged off the sideline and lined up on the quarterback's right side. Orton hiked the ball and zipped it to Thomas for a designed screen.

He set up his blockers and turned his first NFL reception into an 18-yard jaunt that extended the series.

On the next play Thomas streaked up the same side for a 20-yard grab and drew an unnecessary roughness penalty from Lofa Tatupu good for 15 more yards. That's 53 yards of field position in the first two plays of Thomas' career.

Thomas would add two more catches at nine yards apiece on the drive that would eventually set up a field goal that put the home team up 17-0.

"My receiver coach (Adam Gase) came to me and was like, 'You've got this drive,'" Thomas said. "I was (thinking) I might have a chance to make plays. Once they called them out, I ran my routes to the best of my ability and the ball came my way."

He couldn't have done it without a quarterback willing to feed him the football, or a coaching staff that substituted him in for Brandon Lloyd at the beginning of the drive.

"I was telling him, I was throwing up my first game," Lloyd said through laughs. "He looked like a veteran out there."

Eddie Royal knows the feeling. He set a team record for catches by a Bronco in his first professional contest against Oakland in Sept. 2008, and he wasn't concerned when Thomas finished one catch shy of tying it.

"It would have been great if he would have broken it, especially a guy like Demaryius," Royal said. "He's a great kid and he's been working hard, so I wouldn't have minded at all."

From what he's seen in training camp to now, Royal reported that Thomas is integrating nicely into a group of selfless receivers. The third-year receiver said Thomas' work ethic off the field paid dividends on Sunday.

"Some rookies don't listen, but he's one guy where his ears are open," Royal said. "He's doing a good job of taking what he learned in the office and in the meetings and putting it out there on the field."