Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons Embrace Big Wide Receivers


Julio Jones is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Travis Daniels (34) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. (Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE)

There’s a lot to be said for the big, fast wide receiver in the NFL nowadays.

Look at Demaryius Thomas who stands 6’3″ and 229 pounds.

“He is a big, strong, athletic wide receiver that creates matchup issues,” Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Thursday. “As a defensive coach when he has the ball in his hands, you’ve got to hold your breathe because he can break tackles, he’s got a great stiff arm. He’s got outstanding long speed as evidenced by the way he ran on the quick screen on Sunday night.”

Peyton Manning has never thrown to a receiver as big and as fast as Thomas in his entire career, and he was even surprised by Thomas’s touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“His size is pretty rare for any receiver and you add that kind of speed to it,” Manning said. “You saw that touchdown the other day. It could have been an intermediate gain for a lot of guys, and he turned on the jets and took it for 71 yards. The needle is pointing up.”

Thomas finished the night with 5 receptions for 110 yards and 3 first downs to go along with his touchdown.

A guy very similar to Thomas on the other side is second year Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones who helps make up one of the best one-two punches in the game along with Roddy White. Jones is 6’3″ and 220 pounds.

“It gives you a big window to throw it to,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said of Jones. “You just have to have confidence. When you’ve got bigger guys as a quarterback, you have to trust that even when they look covered, they’re not because they’re capable of making those plays.

Ryan trusted Jones enough in week one against the Kansas City Chiefs that Jones broke out with 6 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns.

“He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got good hands much like the receiver you guys have from Georgia Tech in ‘Bey-Bey’ Thomas,” Smith said. He feels more comfortable. He knows how we’re going to practice. He knows the sequencing that takes place through the week and through the off season now. We are really pleased with the development of Julio through the first two years.”

If the part of your heart that anticipates great wide receivers is beating a lot faster, it should be.

Champ Bailey is expected to match up one-on-one with Jones while Tracy Porter is expected to cover White throughout the game Monday night.

“I think they’re right up there,” Ryan said of whether his top two receivers are the league’s best. “That’s for sure. I think those guys are as good as anybody.”

Expect an all-out dual in the secondary for both teams.

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