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Peyton Manning: How will teams play Julius Thomas?

Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas has been an "Around The League Podcast" favorite since the former Portland State basketball player began running with the starters in offseason practices.

Although fantasy football "experts" who missed the boat on Thursday's 110-yard, two-touchdown performance have cautioned that the best performance by a Broncos tight end since 2002 is unrepeatable, Peyton Manning wants to know how defenses are going to stop his new weapon.

"I am not sure how they will answer it, or if they will, but it will be interesting to see how teams play Julius all season," Manning said, via the Broncos' official website. "He is a big guy, he definitely will make teams have a conversation, and that is what you want."

Manning told "Pro Football Talk" on NBC Sports Network last week that Thomas would play a big role this season. That much was apparent by halftime of Thursday's game, when Thomas had racked up the most yards by a Broncos tight end in the first half since Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tallied 154 in November of 1997.

"He responded, did a good job," coach John Fox said, via the Denver Post. "That did not surprise me at all."

Fantasy footballers should not assign "Orange Julius" to the same one-game wonder category as Kevin Ogletree and Frisman Jackson.

Thomas led the team in receiving during the preseason. He was on the field for all 74 snaps in Thursday's win over the Baltimore Ravens. As a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, it's telling that the Broncos kept him on the roster through two seasons lost to lingering high-ankle sprains. The coaching staff and front office obviously believe in his talent.

This up-tempo Broncos offense will play more snaps than most while chasing the 2007 Patriots' scoring record. Manning is right. It will be interesting to see how defenses stop Thomas while also devoting extra attention to receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker.

You're next on the docket, Tom Coughlin. Pick your poison.

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