The contract dispute is keeping Thomas away from minicamp and precious one-on-one time with Manning.
Thomas caught 111 passes for 1,619 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Attendance at minicamp is considered mandatory, but not for
Thomas has held out of all offseason activity as he negotiates a long-term deal with the team. He is not expected at minicamp.
Players would normally be fined for missing the three-day practice session, but Thomas is not subject to that penalty because he hasn't signed the one-year, $12.82 million franchise tender offered by the team. He is essentially a free agent until he signs it.
The two sides have until July 15 to agree on a long-term contract. If they cannot come together and Thomas has not signed with another team, he must play for that amount in 2015.
"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."
Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.
"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."
Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.
Thomas is looking for a longer contract than the one-year deal guaranteed by the franchise tag. He has not participated in any offseason team activities.
On Tuesday, GM John Elway said there has been no progress to report on discussions with Thomas. "We want Demaryius back and are going to do everything to make that happen," he said, per the Denver Post.
"They've got everybody saying we're going to run, run, run and I know the coaches have run the ball before and that's good, I think," Thomas said. "We know we can throw, we know we have guys who can make plays, I don't think Coach Kubiak is going to just ignore that. But I think we all feel like if we can add in a good running game, you can win the Super Bowl."
Although Thomas will not be attending the Broncos' offseason program due to his desire to get a long-term contract figured out, he believes he'll be ready to go for training camp.
"I'm not going to do anything to hurt the team," he said. "Like I say, I'm in the loop with everything and when it's time to get to work in (training) camp and in the season or whenever they get something done, I'll be ready to go. I think it's going to be a great offense and for all of us because if we can run the ball they can't gang up on me or Emmanuel (Sanders) or anybody, they can't rush Peyton with extra guys."
Thomas, who received a franchise tag designation from the team, had career-highs in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,619) in 2014. He added 11 touchdowns.
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