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Julius Thomas: Broncos plan to use me more creatively

Julius Thomas' breakout season took place last year and put him in line for a contract extension, but the Denver Broncos tight end could make another leap in 2014.

Battista: On-the-job training


Fresh off a breakout season, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas tells Judy Battista he's "still learning what to do." **READ**

Thomas' versatility allowed him to become a vital weapon in the Peyton Manning-led aerial attack. As NFL Media's Judy Bautista pointed out last month, Thomas burst onto the scene while essentially still learning Tight End 101.

Entering his fourth year with the Broncos, the athletic tight end expects to be utilized even more in his second season as a starter.

"What I think people will see different in me (this year) is that they will use me a lot more creatively," Thomas recently told "I think there are a lot of things that our offense wanted to do with me, but you can only learn so much in one year. No matter how much time you have at practice, it never seems to be enough when you're learning and trying to come into your own."

Even while he was just getting by on athleticism, Thomas forced teams to game-plan ways to slow him down. He compiled 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

The Broncos' loss of Eric Decker in free agency will open up even more opportunities for Thomas. The tight end's increased knowledge of the offense, experience from starting 14 games and an expanded role could have him flirting with the 1,000-yard barrier in 2014.

"I do think I'm still scratching the surface," Thomas said. "I've had guys who have told me that playing football around Year 4 and Year 5, it starts to click and then it all starts to make sense of what you're doing. That's typical of a normal guy who has been playing forever. I still think I have so far to go. I need to keep getting repetitions and keep getting comfortable with things."

The latest "Around The League Podcast" debates Jay Cutler's ceiling and looks back at the NFL in the '90s.

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