After a breakout season in 2013, Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is ready to take his game to the next level.
With two years involving little playing time and injury issues, Thomas finished the 2013 season with 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and earned a Pro Bowl bid. He was a player the Broncos were excited about a year ago at this time as someone who could add another element to their offense, but I don’t think even they thought he would be as good as he was.
While many expected Denver’s trio of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker to load up the stat sheet, no one could have expected that Thomas would blow up like he did with only one football to go around.
But the third year was the charm for him, and now he’s one year away from earning a new contract and has a chance to prove himself even better in 2014 than he was in 2013.
That’s a scary thing for opposing teams.
“By no standards was I my best in any aspect of the game,” Thomas said. “That’s what’s really exciting about these offseason OTAs for me is I really get a chance to work on things and improve.
I hold myself to a very high standard,” he said. “I’m spending a lot of time going back and looking at last year’s tape these last couple weeks and just seeing so many areas that I can improve in.”
One area of focus for Thomas this offseason? Run blocking. The Broncos’ didn’t exactly have an extension of the offensive line with Thomas on the field last year, but by the end of the season, his run blocking had markedly improved.
Going up against a guy like DeMarcus Ware in practice has been a huge benefit for Thomas, who makes the point that blocking guys like Ware — who are the best in the world at not getting blocked — is a lot harder than you think.
Still, he’s a professional, and he knows that he has to get better.
Becoming more dynamic is not only going to pay dividends for Thomas on the field, but in his bank account as well. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and if he can show some consistency from last year to this year, he should become one of the highest paid tight ends in the league.
Thomas is one of the main reasons the Broncos decided to let go of Eric Decker, knowing they’d probably have to choose one combination of just two of their guys.
With the upside he possesses at the tight end position, it turned out to be a decision the Broncos simply had to make.
And that upside hopefully will translate to more points. Thomas says the Broncos merely scratch the surface of what they can do in last year’s record-setting offense.
“We’ve seen the tape,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen how much we left out there and like I said, I saw how much I left out there last year. And I think we have that motivation to go out there and even be better.”
“None of us think we’ve achieved the most we can. We know that we can come back and even be a better offense. We’ve just have to push each other, stay motivated, stay together.”
The scary thing is, he’s right.
The Broncos were the best offense the league has ever seen in terms of points scored, touchdowns, whatever record you want to come up with, but they were a team that constantly got off to a slow start, not unlike Thomas early in his career.
His evaluation of his progress is exciting, and Broncos fans are even more excited to see what he can do now with a year under his belt.