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Next-Day Notebook: Demaryius Thomas bounces back, David Bruton Jr. steps up


Thomas rebounds against Chargers**
When the Broncos celebrated their win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Week 12, one Bronco was frustrated.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had an off game against the Patriots, tallying just one reception and dropping a handful that came his way. His one catch was crucial – a 36-yard reception on the Broncos final drive of regulation.

"It was a tough one—probably one of my toughest ones this year," Thomas said to the media on Wednesday. "I felt like I let my teammates down besides that one big play."

The Broncos rolled past the Chargers Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm stadium. These are the best shots from the win.

After working all week on bouncing back against the Chargers, Thomas did just that. Against San Diego, he caught all six balls that quarterback Brock Osweiler threw to him for 61 yards, including a 21-yard reception and a touchdown on the first drive of the game.

"It feels good to be back on the good side of catching the ball," Thomas said. "I think the main thing was starting fast and making sure I catch the ball to get up the field."

Thomas' touchdown reception was the 44th of his career, tying him with Haven Moses and Lionel Taylor for the fourth most in franchise history.

"I think his performance today, especially early on, is just a true testament to the player that he is and the person that he is," Osweiler said. "Obviously he didn't play the way that he wanted to last week. He came up with a huge fourth quarter catch that helped this team get a win last week. But, just because of how he practices on a daily basis and how hungry he is, I knew he would bounce back this week."

Bruton steps up
With the absence of two-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward after his injury against the Patriots in Week 12, the Broncos defense epitomized the idea of "next man up."

Safety David Bruton Jr. has continued to not only be a leader, but also an absolute force in the secondary, and he rose to the challenge against the San Chargers and their proficient second-ranked passing offense.

"I really think it's the guys behind the starters," said outside linebacker Von Miller of the defense stepping up. "[There's] a lot of talk about Chris [Harris Jr.] and [Aqib] Talib and T.J., but David Bruton, he's playing out of his mind right now."

Bruton finished the day as the team's leading tackler with 12, a new career-high for the seven-year veteran and special teams captain.

Bruton spent the majority of the game playing man coverage on Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who caught six receptions on nine targets for 50 yards. Cornerback Aqib Talib praised Bruton's performance, particularly against Gates.

"We were very confident in our game plan, so it was a good game to put [Bruton] in," Talib said. "It was kind of a man [-coverage] game. It was a man matchup with Antonio Gates today, so that's a great matchup with [Bruton]. He probably would have played a ton even if T.J. would have played. We're going ride with who we've got and it just so happened it was a great matchup for [Bruton] today."

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