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.
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.