No. 88 in the NFL comes in two polar opposite varieties.
Take Dez Bryant, the loud-talking Dallas Cowboys wide receiver that constantly shows up in headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he can put together some big games, but when all is said and done, he’s remembered more for his off-the-field antics. So what if he had 5 catches for 110 yards against the New York Giants this week? It was in a losing effort, and he fumbled the ball.
No. 88 for the Denver Broncos on the other hand is soft-spoken (you can barely hear the guy when he talks to the media), and keeps his nose out of the newspapers unless it’s for his performance on the field.
Demaryius Thomas had another monster game when he racked up 7 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos 34-14 win over the New Orleans Saints Sunday night. That was his seventh career 100-yard receiving game. His 41-yard reception in the first quarter was his 12th catch of 40 or more yards since he entered the league in 2010. That puts him in 4th place among active players, only behind Mike Wallace (18), Calvin Johnson (15), and DeSean Jackson (14).
“It’s very obvious his size, strength, and speed,” Peyton Manning said. “I feel like he’s working on his craft every week with the coaches, and he and I spend a lot of time throwing routes, being together, and [competing] one-on-one against our good corners certainly makes you better.”
For Thomas, Christmas came nine months early (or a few months late?) when the Broncos gift-wrapped him the league’s best free agent, a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
“It’s great just to go out every week and know you have a guy like him that is going to throw you the ball,” Thomas said. “This is what we’ve been working on most of the time, basically getting on the same page, knowing what he wants, knowing when to slow my route down or cut it short.”
What would Bryant be with Manning instead of Tony Romo? Who knows? Could he keep himself out of trouble long enough to be on the field? Would he work as hard as Thomas in the off season?
Even though Josh McDaniels didn’t know his north end zone from his south end zone, he knew enough to select Thomas ahead of Bryant in the 2010 draft (Thomas went No. 22 overall, Bryant, No. 24).
For that we can thank him. For that we can air it out, and let the biggest receiver Manning has ever played with make the play.
Give me Thomas over Bryant any day.