Posted Sat Jun 30th by Jon Heath
Nobody in Denver is more excited about the arrival of quarterback Peyton Manning than third-year receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
And for good reason.
Thomas caught 32 passes for 551 yards and four touchdowns last season while Decker hauled in 44 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. With Manning under center, those numbers are expected to jump in 2012.
“When you think about Peyton Manning in his career, when he started under center, he’s had a receiver in the Pro Bowl every year, with the exception of his rookie season,” former NFL running back Marshall Faulk said on NFL Network’s Total Access show Wednesday evening. “He’s puts guys into the Pro Bowl.”
Faulk knows first-hand the benefits of having Manning as your quarterback, as he earned a Pro Bowl berth following Manning’s rookie season in which the duo connected 86 times for 908 yards and four scores. On the ground, Faulk added 1,319 yards and six more scores during the 1998 season.
This year, Manning will have Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman as his main weapons out of the backfield, and he’s confident that they’ll get the job done. “I certainly think our running game is going to be effective,” Manning said earlier in the month, “It’s going to be a top priority.”
The Broncos led the NFL in rushing last season with McGahee leading the charge with 1,199 yards on the ground. While the team will still run the ball this season, they’ll be more balanced than they were in 2011, when running was the offenses’ main objective.
“We don’t want to be just the best running offense in the league,” Thomas said four weeks ago, “We want to be the best overall offense in the league, so we need to have balance”. For Thomas and Decker, a more balanced offensive will mean more targets for them, which should mean more production from the young wide outs.
“With our opportunity to practice with and against some of the best in the NFL (speaking of Manning and Denver’s talented secondary), we’re perfecting our own craft,” noted Decker. “Every step counts, every move counts, every second and every yard counts. Every day is another step towards where we want to be.”
Where the team ultimately wants to be is in the Super Bowl. But for Thomas and Decker, Pro Bowl recognition would be icing on the cake.