Thomas said his hips are both healthy, The Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala reports. "This is the best I've ever felt in nearly my whole career," he said Thursday. "That helps. I don't feel pain running routes on this side or that side. It's basically equal now, so there's more joy. I'm having more fun and am not worried about guys covering me on one side or another."
Thomas aggravated a pre-existing issue in his left hip Week 1 last season and spent the rest of the year playing through pain, also dealing with some discomfort in the other hip. He still played all 16 games and drew a team-leading 145 targets, but his 90 catches, 1,083 receiving yards and five touchdowns all represented his worst marks since 2011 when Tim Tebow spent most of the season at quarterback. Thomas did hint earlier this offseason that the hip issues could resurface, but he also said he has a plan in place to minimize the chances of that happening. The larger concern is Denver's quarterback situation, though Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch should fare better this upcoming season, after the team upgraded its porous offensive line via free agency and the draft. Thomas has proven he can produce without the benefit of strong quarterback play, having caught 105 passes for 1,304 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 while playing with Brock Osweiler and a washed-up Peyton Manning. The entire Denver passing game also figures to benefit from the return of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, whose scheme is more pass-oriented than that of former head coach Gary Kubiak.
Thomas said his hips bothered him for much of the 2016 season, but he doesn't expect them to be a problem in 2017, ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold reports.
Though he needed some time for his troublesome hips to heal, Thomas should be ready to participate in most or all of the Broncos' offseason program. He hinted he has a plan to avoid future problems of a similar nature, saying "I'll be on top of it," when asked if he thought his hips would be an issue during the upcoming season. The larger concern is Denver's quarterback play, with Thomas coming off a 2016 season in which he had his lowest marks for receptions (90), receiving yards (1,083) and touchdowns (five) since 2011, despite playing all 16 games for a fifth straight year. The team is expected to hold a competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, hoping that both players' increased experience -- in addition to an improved offensive line -- will at least push the Denver offense back toward the middle of the NFL pack.
Thomas' production across the board represented his lowest totals since the 2011 season. It is no coincidence that the four years of elite-level production in between were with Peyton Manning at the helm. Though Thomas still found his way into the Pro Bowl, he lacked consistent play with only two games of 100 yards or more and no touchdowns after the
Thomas caught four of six targets for 47 yards in Sunday's win over the Raiders.
Thomas briefly left Sunday's game with an injury, but soon returned. During a rough 2016 season for Denver's offense, Thomas still managed to top 90 catches and 1,000 yards for the fifth straight year. Plenty of questions will need to be answered before he shoots for number six. Head coach Gary Kubiak is set to retire and Thomas is likely to be playing in a new offense next season. He might also be catching passes from a new quarterback, depending on whether the new staff decides to stick with Trevor Siemian, move on with 2016 first-rounder Paxton Lynch or look elsewhere for solutions.
Thomas caught three of eight targets for 20 yards in Sunday's loss to Kansas City.
Despite the offense's floundering, Thomas was actually showing well in recent weeks, with 28 catches in Denver's first four games after the bye. That all came crashing down on Sunday with season lows in catches and yards. It's been a tough year for Thomas with an uncustomary level of inexperience at quarterback and he might get rookie Paxton Lynch tossing passes his way in what amounts to a meaningless Week 17. In Lynch's two starts this season, Thomas has caught 11 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
|P1||8/10/17||@ CHI||8:00 pm|
|P2||8/19/17||@ SF||10:00 pm|
|3||9/24/17||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 5|
|7||10/22/17||@ LAC||4:25 pm|
|8||10/30/17||@ KC||8:30 pm|
|9||11/5/17||@ PHI||1:00 pm|
|12||11/26/17||@ OAK||4:25 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ MIA||1:00 pm|
|15||12/14/17||@ IND||8:25 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|