No Denver Broncos player had 1,000 yards receiving when Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton were quarterbacking the team in 2011. In fact, the team’s leading receiver, Eric Decker, had only 612 yards on 44 catches, while Demaryius Thomas caught 32 passes and turned those receptions into 551 yards and four touchdowns.
With Peyton Manning now at the helm of Denver’s offense, Thomas is having a Pro Bowl-type of year and has already entered the top 10 in Broncos history for the most receiving yards in a single season. He has gained 1,210 yards and scored eight touchdowns, including a team-best 71-yarder in the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Decker has gained 923 yards and scored a team-leading nine touchdowns on 72 receptions.
“I don’t think in terms of possession receivers,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “They all need to be possession receivers. That means they catch the ball. Decker’s done a nice job for them and Thomas is very explosive. I think they both play extremely well. They catch the ball outside, inside and they’ve done a nice job. They’ve done a really good job.”
Twice this year, Decker has done something he accomplished only once in his previous two NFL seasons.
Decker had his first 100-yard receiving game of the year when he caught eight passes and gained 136 yards in a 31-25 loss against the Houston Texans on Sept. 23. He also gained 133 yards and caught a 51-yard touchdown in last week’s 34-17 victory at the Baltimore Ravens. In two other games, Decker has gained 98 yards (at San Diego on Oct. 15) and 99 yards (at Cincinnati on Nov. 4). He had back-to-back two-touchdown games against the New Orleans Saints and in Cincinnati.
Thomas has reached the 100-yard plateau five times this season after only reaching the mark twice as a rookie in 2010 and having no more than 97 yards in a regular-season game last year.
“I’m sure with Peyton running the offense, there’s some synergy there that helps make (it work),” Shurmur said. “Good quarterbacks make everybody around them better. I’m sure that can be said about Peyton. I’ve never really been around him, but just watching him play, the players around him play at a high level.”
MISSING FROM PRACTICE
“He came in yesterday and wasn’t feeling well, so then, he didn’t practice,” Shurmur said. “We put him through the paces and we’re treating him as though he may have one.”
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Since the team’s bye week on Nov. 11, the Browns have gotten defensive tackles Phil Taylor and
Since returning to the lineup, Taylor has recorded 11 total tackles, 10 solo stops, one sack and a fumble recovery.
“I’m glad Phil’s back and I think he’s playing better than he did last year,” Shurmur said. “It’s unfortunate that he had to miss half the year with that injury, but he’s back going and playing well.”
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron added, “Phil’s got a lot of potential in front of him and he’s playing fine. He got the late start on the year with hardly any offseason, if at all, and he’s done a nice job preparing himself. He’s playing hard and he’s got it all in front of him. I think his best years are in front of him.”