Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas: 'whole route tree' now in play with Peyton Manning

Thomas admits that route-running takes on a new dimension with Manning under center. (US PRESSWIRE)

In April, weeks after the Broncos landed Peyton Manning and unloaded Tim Tebow on the Jets, Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas admitted what everybody already knew: Tebow, NFL passer, struggled with accuracy last season.

"I ain't going to say I was sad (to see Tebow go) because the only thing they remember is that pass (the game-winning 80-yard touchdown throw against Pittsburgh in the playoffs). You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games," Thomas said at the time. "I wasn't getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws, but I don't want to talk bad about Tim, but hey I am happy we got Peyton."

In a recent radio interview, Thomas spoke in more detail about his new quarterback.

“The thing that gets me is how well [Manning] knows the game, and he’s a leader," he said via "It ain’t just him talking to the offense. He talks to the whole team as a group, so I feel like that’s something big, because I never saw a quarterback that does that. And even when we’re in the weight room, he’s just a leader. You got something like that on your team, it can take you big places.”

And unlike last season, when Thomas was occasionally on the receiving end of throws from Tebow, the wideout knows that route-running is an entirely different undertaking with Manning now under center.

“You’re gonna have to run the whole route tree now," he said. "The comebacks, the slants, the posts, the ins. And I didn’t have to do that much my first couple of years in the league.”

No one disputes that Manning is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and Tebow is best suited as a backup quarterback and Wildcat specialist. The problem, of course, is that Manning is 36 and didn't play in 2011 after undergoing multiple neck surgeries. If he can't take a hit, Denver's quarterback situation will be in much worse shape in 2012 than it was a season ago. And it won't take long to find out the answer to that question: the Broncos face the Steelers in Week 1.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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