ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Eleven months ago, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas made it known he was preparing for his 'best year yet.'
Fast forward to January, and Thomas had done just that. In his third NFL season, Thomas' catches, yards and touchdowns had all nearly tripled from 2011.
He ranked in the top 10 in the league in receiving yards, receptions, receiving average, touchdowns and 25-plus-yard catches in 2012 en route to his first Pro Bowl trip.
Teamed with Eric Decker, Thomas was part of the NFL's third-ranked receiving duo with 2,498 combined yards. The two also led the league with 23 combined touchdown catches and became the first Broncos 1,000-yard receiving tandem since 2004.
"Both of those guys have excellent work ethics, which I appreciate and I really felt like we got the most out of the time we got together last year as we could," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "But we're hoping that we can be better this year. I know those guys are excited to be better players this year than they were last year."
That desire to improve was obvious from Thomas when he took the podium on the first day of the club's offseason conditioning program Monday.
For the second consecutive offseason, he returned to his alma mater, Georgia Tech, to work with fellow Pro Bowl receivers. The goal remained the same -- to make one another better.
"It was me, (Detroit WR) Calvin Johnson, (Cincinnati WR) A.J. Green, (Broncos WR) Andre Caldwell came, there were a couple of other guys that played defense, stuff like that," Thomas said. "I think it's just -- all we're doing is competing and trying to make each other better. I feel like every day we came in and tried to make each other better, and I think it will pay off."
The idea, Thomas said, is to learn what other elite NFL receivers are doing so that he can add some of their skill sets to his game.
Not that he feels he needs to "catch up" to Johnson and Green's level.
"I ain't going to say, 'catch up,' because I feel like I can do some of the things they do," he smiled. "It's just that they had a couple of (better) years, and I had some down years because I was hurt."
When asked if he feels like he can compete on their level, he said, simply, "Yeah, I do."
Thomas recognized that his success has as much do with his timing with Manning as his own talent, so he didn't hesitate to accept an offer to train for a few days in early April at Duke University with Manning, Decker and newcomer Wes Welker.
Manning and his three receivers threw together in five workouts over a three-day span.
"It was really good work with Wes and Eric and Demaryius," Manning said. "Those guys came down and worked hard and I really appreciated that."
Thomas called it "a good start" toward picking up where he and his quarterback left off in a season that saw the Broncos earn the AFC's No. 1 seed.
And with the addition of Welker, he feels the only way to go is up.
"I knew when he was coming in that I would probably get more one-on-one coverage, so I was kind of excited, actually, because with that guy, Decker and two great tight ends, it's going to be hard to double-team somebody," he said.
"We had to go at a certain pace last year because of the new offense, new players, and I think if we get the timing down and the offense speeds up, it's going to be hard for guys to stop us."