National Football League
Thomas chasing Johnson's mark but focused more on W-L record
National Football League

Thomas chasing Johnson's mark but focused more on W-L record

Published Sep. 23, 2015 8:12 p.m. ET

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas still thinks he can break Calvin Johnson's single-season yardage record, slow start and all.

He's just going to have to pick up the pace, that's all.

Thomas is averaging 88 yards and will have to increase that figure by about 40 yards a game to have a shot at Johnson's record of 1,964 yards set in 2012.

The record Thomas has his sights set on right now though is the 2-0 mark that Denver will take into Sunday night's showdown in Detroit against Johnson's Lions (0-2).


''Right now, it's mainly trying to get better at what I do in this new offense,'' Thomas said Wednesday. ''That's going out and doing whatever I have to do to help this team win. If that's making a play at the end of the game and that's my only play, that's what I have to do.''

That's what he did last week, when he caught three passes for 54 yards on Denver's final drive in a stunning 31-24 last-minute win at Kansas City.

His last catch was a 15-yard grab from Peyton Manning on third-and-8 when he boxed out rookie cornerback Marcus Peters at the Chiefs 24. That set up Emmanuel Sanders' game-tying touchdown.

''When I watched the film, I said that's why they're paying him $70 million,'' teammate C.J. Anderson said.

On the day he signed his five-year, $70 million deal last summer, Thomas said he had studied Kubiak's offenses in Houston and Baltimore during his protracted contract stalemate and realized there were plenty of big plays to be made.

Thus, the prediction that he'd break Megatron's record.

Johnson, now in his ninth season, said he doesn't compare his numbers to other receivers around the league anymore.

''I used to get caught up in that a lot when I was a little younger,'' he said. ''Now I've just realized I base it off of whatever I can do to help this team get W's on that side of the column. That's the big thing for me nowadays.''

Johnson has 12 catches for 122 yards, a touchdown and no wins.

Thomas has 15 catches for 176 yards, no touchdowns and two wins.

Yet, there's plenty of angst in Detroit and Denver.

''I'm sure on the outside the world's falling down for a team that's 0-2,'' Manning said. ''I mean, it seems like it's falling down here and we're 2-0.''

The Broncos rank last in the league in offense and Manning's QB rating of 74.2 is near the bottom of the NFL and pales in comparison to his 97.5 career mark.

The Broncos are still trying to find the right mix on offense between Kubiak's philosophies and Manning's skills. GM John Elway told the team's website Wednesday that the key to taking some pressure off the 39-year-old QB was finding better balance in the run game and hitting some big plays downfield.

That's where Thomas comes in.

He caught seven passes for 60 yards in the opener and had five for 62 yards against Kansas City before coming up big in the two-minute drill against the Chiefs.

''You'd like to find some bigger ones along the way,'' Kubiak said. ''But there couldn't have been any bigger ones at that stage of the game.''

Thomas and Johnson figure to be the featured attractions Sunday night at Ford Field. The two big receivers (Johnson is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds and Thomas 6-4 and 229) have redefined what it means to get open in the NFL.

''Yeah, I would say so. I know Demaryius was probably not open on that third-and-8 the other night in that two-minute drill,'' Manning said. ''That guy had pretty good coverage on him and I would think that corner probably got a plus on his grade sheet for covering everything right.''

Notes: CB Aqib Talib was sent home sick Wednesday, but is expected back at practice Thursday. ''They realized he was sick fast. He didn't really get around anybody,'' CB Chris Harris Jr. said.


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