This week all of the talk has been about the Tebow Thing.
The fact that DT Kevin Vickerson is done for the season after being placed on the IR with an ankle injury is “page. 8″ news.
The Tebow Thing has been the “Lead” story on ESPN’s ticker even through this morning. National football analysts are dissecting the move that has put a 1-4 Broncos team on the map. (Move over 1-4 Philadelphia Eagles). Even former Gators’ coach Urban Myer may be waiting for a call from John Fox to strategize on how to best use his Heisman winning QB in the Broncos offense.
Perhaps just as important as the quarterback change is the accompanying players that are returning form injury who will undoubtedly make Tebow’s life as a pocket passer easier.
After the bye week, receivers Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas (the man taken before Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft), and tight end Julius Thomas are all expected to return to action.
Royal (groin), and Julius Thomas (ankle) have each seen action in 2 games this season. Royal has 4 receptions for 51 yards (all catches have gone for first downs) in the stat books already. Julius Thomas has just 1 catch for 5 yards, but his preseason play produced a lot of catches and long runs after the catch.
Demaryius Thomas is a different story entirely. He played in just 10 games in his rookie season, reeling in 10 receptions for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was also a mainstay on special teams as the team’s kick returner. However, in February he tore his Achilles and just as he was coming back from that injury in training camp, he broke his finger. Thomas just can’t catch a break, or perhaps he’s catching too many.
While Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker are the main receivers who draw a crowd these days, it should be easier Royal and the two Thomas’s to get back into a rhythm.
The Chargers took one of their linebackers and had him shadow Tebow on nearly every play. That opens things up for the passing game, particularly for a slot receiver like Royal who knows how to find a pocket and sit in it. One can only hope that other teams will follow suit and consider Tebow such a threat that they need a man at mid field just to shadow him.
As the Broncos head into some time off after today, it will be Tebow, Royal, Thomas, and Thomas who will just be getting started. The success of these three men hinges upon one another.
Tebow has not changed his plans for the bye week, preferring to regroup and focus on his new starting position and helping a 1-4 team come back from the brink. The three receivers who look to return from injury will likely see plenty of time in the team’s training facility receiving medical treatment.
From 4th string to starter. From training room back to NFL receiver. This group has less than two week to prepare for the biggest audition of their lives.