ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Last September, Demaryius Thomas prayed that an injury to his left hip wouldn’t get worse during the season. After playing through the injury for the final 15 games, it seemed that a higher power had listened to Thomas and protected him for the year from further injury.
Seven months later, Thomas admitted that his prayers weren’t fully answered. On Tuesday, during the second day of the Broncos’ offseason workout program, he further explained his hip injury that he battled through most of last season.
“It was tough. Sometimes I couldn’t stop, and sometimes I couldn’t run certain routes that I wanted to run,” he said. “Sometimes I couldn’t get off press because I had no power in it. Like you said, it wasn’t my excuse. I was out there, going out, trying to help my teammates out and trying to make it not look bad on my part.”
While Thomas didn’t miss a single game due to the injury, it was more serious than it appeared to the public. Whether it was the injury or other factors, he had his worst statistical year since before Peyton Manning arrived in Denver, compiling 90 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.
“It was bad at times. It got worse at some times,” he said. “I never thought about surgery. I could get it, but I didn’t think I needed it and I don’t really need it. Right now, I feel great. I’ve been running routes, and it hasn’t been bothering me. It just depends on how you get hit now. It’s basically maintaining the hips.”
Much like last season, Thomas wanted the specifics to remain a mystery. In front of a large media contingency at the UCHealth Training Center, Thomas confirmed that he knew the specifics of the injury, but when asked to divulge that information Thomas simply replied with a smile, “I forget.”
However, what he does remember is that he’s not concerned with the injury reappearing in 2017, even though he elected to not go under the knife in the offseason.
“No, it won’t [bother him this year],” Thomas said. “I will be on top of it. I’m going to be on top of it and do whatever I need to do to be 100 [percent].”
A day after Vance Joseph demanded “more juice” out of the offense, specifically calling on Thomas to step up at the Owner’s Meetings in March, Thomas stood in the spotlight and embraced the high expectations put on him directly and indirectly by the head coach.
“The first thing I thought was more opportunities and chances to get the ball more, but also be that guy to get the offense sparking,” he said. “I’m excited about it and I look forward to it. I just have to step up to the plate.”
Led by new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Thomas believes the offense has all of the tools to be a force to reckon with next year even after ranking in the bottom fourth in scoring just a year ago. For Thomas, it will start with his favorite play: the screen pass.
“The sky is the limit [for the offense],” Thomas said. “The years we played together with Mike [McCoy] were some of my best years. I look forward to it this year as well.”
After a season full of struggle, both individually battling a hip injury and team productivity, Thomas believes 2017 will be different on both accounts. With the high expectations put on Thomas by the new coaching staff, the offense’s success could hinge on Thomas’ hip, even if the injury remains a mystery.