ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** It's hard to think of a player who will be more excited to see Demaryius Thomas back at training camp than Peyton Manning.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who has been Manning's top target for each of the previous three seasons signed a new five-year contract with the Broncos just in time for training camp.
"I was very happy for him, personally, how he deserves his new contract," Manning said on Monday. "He's earned every bit of it. I know he will continue to earn it over the rest of his career.
"He's been a real pleasure to play with, been a great teammate, been very accountable. He's a guy that he's there for you every single Sunday. He's played through a lot of injuries [and] he's dependable. That's what you want in your premier receiver."
When Thomas gets to work at camp, he'll begin learning the offense in earnest, having done as much work as he could from his offseason workouts. However, just like Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said previously, Manning has no qualms about Thomas picking it all up quickly.
"I know Coach [Kubiak] is going to have a good plan for him," Manning said. "I know Demaryius is going to be in great shape. He has been working out. He is going to be in tip-top shape. Obviously there's some learning for him, as well. I know Coach has a good plan for that."
Questions about the Broncos upcoming season will take essential steps toward being answered once training camp arrives and progresses deep into August.
Just like many fans, Peyton Manning is eager on seeing how the team's young players react to the competition, the pressure and, for a considerable bunch, their first NFL playing experience.
"This is kind of that next phase of the season and I'm really curious to see how everybody kind of responds," Manning said on Monday. "We'll be in pads before too long and be playing preseason games. We've got a lot of young players and have enough change where there's still a little bit of unknowns and so now we've got to work hard [and] work together during this time in training camp, try to form that chemistry, form a little cohesion and see what kind of team we're going to have."
And just like Peyton Manning, the fans will have the opportunity to see the team get that cohesion with training camp practices reopening to fans this summer following the hiatus required by last year's construction.
"Training camp practices are meant to be performed in front of fans," Manning said. "It helps you on that two-a-day practice or that seventh practice when you're hot, you're tired. You need those fans encouraging you to kind of help you push through and I know they're excited to be back out there.
"As players, we're definitely excited that training camp is back with fans. It just makes practices better. I think the fans play a big role and it's really your chance to interact with the fans after practice. It's hard to do that as much once the regular season gets here. I'm glad the fans are back."