ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Soon after Head Coach Vance Joseph took over in Denver, he issued a challenge to Demaryius Thomas.
The Broncos needed the five-time Pro Bowler to take over games and be dominant at all times, Joseph said. And Thomas responded positively.
"It means a lot," Thomas said in April. "Definitely, the first thing I thought was more opportunities and chances to get the ball more, but also be that guy to get the offense sparking. I'm excited about it and I look forward to it. I just have to step up to the plate."
Months later, Thomas remains a focal point for the offense, and the expectations have only grown.
"D.T. looks phenomenal, and I've got huge expectations for him," said Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy on Wednesday after practice. "I think he understands, and I understand, what the expectations are of this organization and the type of offense and the type of team we need to have."
Thomas, who owns the NFL's longest active streak of 1,000-yard receiving seasons, provides more than just an elite option on the outside.
"He's the leader of the group," McCoy said. "Him and Emmanuel [Sanders] both — they set the standard for this offense. The way we're going to work, the way we're going to practice. They're so competitive and I think that's the great thing about this team, is the way they practice against one another. All offseason long, all through the OTAs, the minicamp, through training camp, it's been so competitive. Not just D.T., but Emmanuel and the standard they set."
The last time McCoy featured Thomas in his offense, the then-second-year wide receiver caught 94 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to his first Pro-Bowl selection.
Five years later, McCoy sees the same player.
"D.T. played that way when we were together back in the day," McCoy said. "Him and Virgil [Green] are the only two guys left remaining on offense, but I just love the way he works, and I'm looking forward to D.T. having a phenomenal year."