Posted Mon Sep 5th by Monty
Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was thought to be unavailable for most of the 2011 season after he suffered an Achilles tendon injury in February. The initial diagnosis? Between eight and ten months, as is typical for an injury of his type and magnitude.
Then word broke out over the weekend that the Broncos were planning on bringing Thomas back onto the practice field as early as this week, a full two-to-four months ahead of schedule.
Today, the Broncos made good on those plans.
Thomas was back on the practice field Monday as the Broncos prepared for next Monday’s season opener against the Oakland Raiders, running routes and catching passes.
While the Broncos are excited to have Thomas back, they plan on taking it slow with the 2010 first round draft pick. General Manager Brian Xanders indicated Thomas could run the scout team while the Broncos’ four other receivers — Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Eric Decker, and Matthew Willis — provide enough depth and experience to be available on gameday.
“We’ve got to get him in shape leg-wise, quadriceps, hamstrings and all of that has to be working well,” Xanders said. “We’ll see how he does. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.”
The Broncos don’t plan on using many four- or five-wide receiver sets in 2011. As opposed to Josh McDaniels‘ spread offense, John Fox will employ two tight end sets much more often. A two-back formation will also be utilized much more often under Fox. The focus is on the running game, not the passing game.
Still, it’s remarkable that Thomas could be available by Monday’s opener at all. Xanders credits Thomas’ hard work and the Broncos’ training staff over camp for the quicker-than-expected recovery.
“It’s over those five weeks with our trainers and doctors. He did great job rehabbing himself during the lockout and then he came in and had a great five weeks with us,” Xanders said. “Out on the field, the doctors allowed him to work more routes, and more explosion exercises—jumping. There’s a lot of stuff to do with the Achilles tendon there, but he did really well, so they cleared him to go.”
“He’s going to be running scout team cards eventually in full pads, and we’ll see how he is,” Xanders said.
And if Thomas suffers a setback, the Broncos have Eron Riley waiting in the practice squad wings, who had as impressive a preseason as one can ask a third-string wide receiver.