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Broncos looking for a healthy Thomas to justify his draft status

  • By Associated Press
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Demaryius Thomas' goal as the Denver Broncos' new deep threat is twofold: get on the field and stay there.

Thomas has had more injuries than touchdowns since becoming the first wide receiver selected in the 2010 NFL draft, ahead of Dallas' Dez Bryant.

The burly wide receiver practiced for the first time in more than a month on Monday, the same day the Broncos traded Tim Tebow's top target, Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd, to the St. Louis Rams for what will likely be a fifth-round pick in 2012.

Thomas missed six games last year while dealing with a recurrent foot injury, a concussion and a sprained ankle, which limited his rookie production to 22 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns. He tore his right Achilles tendon in offseason workouts earlier this year and last month shattered his left pinkie during his first padded practice.

Thomas said that while he needs time to get into game shape, he said he expects to play Sunday at Miami, when Tebow makes his first start since supplanting Kyle Orton at quarterback.

Without Lloyd, Thomas and Matthew Willis will be counted upon to stretch the field and keep defenses from stacking the box to throttle the Broncos' new scrambling quarterback.

"We think it's a strength," coach John Fox said of his young receiving corps. "We've got some guys coming back -- Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal -- and (we like) the emergence of Eric Decker."

Royal has been out since Sept. 18 with a strained groin and he, too, expects to play against the Dolphins.

One thing Thomas acknowledged bothers him is the pressure of living up to his high draft status.

"Yeah, that's kind of tough because you know I'm a No. 1 pick but I ain't played but 10 games," he said. "I feel like I need to come out and do some things on the field."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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