ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant entered the NFL merely minutes apart from one another.
Selected 22nd and 24th overall, respectively, in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Thomas and Bryant have both since made names for themselves as big-play receivers for the Broncos and Cowboys.
Since the 2010 season, Thomas and Bryant have combined to haul in 400 passes for 5,814 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Sunday, however, marks the first meeting between the two receivers in a regular-season game – and the inevitable comparisons between the players have been drawn throughout the week.
"They both have great individual talent. They both play with good quarterbacks," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "They're going to get their numbers. They're both kind of big, speedy receivers. The typical guys that are coming out of college these days. They're pretty close. I like my guy a lot, but we've got our hands full with (Bryant)."
Bryant has 223 career receptions – including 23 this season for 282 yards and four touchdowns – and while Thomas noted that he has only watched a limited amount of Bryant on the field, he quickly recognized the explosiveness of the Cowboys receiver.
"I watch some, not much. From I've watched I see he's explosive," Thomas said. "He's good at what he does and when he has the ball in his hands he's like a man-child."
The same applies for Thomas – as teammate Eric Decker pointed out.
"He's really matured as a person and as a football player," Decker said. "He's definitely I think, one of the best, top route-runners in this league. He's explosive. He makes plays – (his) run after catch is unbelievable."
Decker had equally strong praise for Bryant.
"Dez Bryant is a guy that has a lot of potential and is very explosive," Decker added. "Same thing – is very dangerous. And he's something that we're going to have to make sure that we prepare for, for Sunday, defensively and that guys are ready to be all over the field to cover him."
And while their individual performances will again undoubtedly draw comparisons on Sunday, the true matchup of significance for the Broncos is the one between Bryant and the Denver defense.
Cornerback Chris Harris noted that disrupting the connection between Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo will be critical to slowing down the Cowboys offense.
"We all know Dez Bryant is a great receiver and we've got to match his mentality," Harris said. "We can't let him get going. That's the thing about him and Romo, they get into a great rhythm and we've got to try to keep him from getting that rhythm."