The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 11, 2013

Broncs’ Decker, Thomas flourish under Manning

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — They were frustrated a year ago when Tim Tebow didn’t target them very often — and often missed his targets when he did.

Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have flourished with Peyton Manning under center, combining for 179 catches, 2,498 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.

They’re two of the biggest reasons the Denver Broncos (13-3) haven’t lost in three months heading into their AFC divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens (11-6) on Saturday.

Having Manning around can do wonders for young receivers, but only if they work hard and stay healthy, the two things that allowed this pair of third-year pros to put aside a history of injuries and have bust-out seasons.

“Anytime that you’re around Peyton, either you get better or you don’t play,” veteran receiver Brandon Stokley said. “He demands that you put a lot of work in on the practice field, demands attention to detail, consistency. And if you do those things, you become a good football player.”

Manning said if anything surprised him in his first season in Denver, it was how quickly he developed a rhythm with his new receivers.

“I would agree that the rapport with the receivers has come probably quicker than I thought,” Manning said, noting you just never know how — or how fast — the timing and chemistry will come together.

Especially with a new team, new coaches, new city, new targets.

Decker started 13 games during the 2011 season but caught just 14 passes after the Broncos dusted off the read-option offense to fit Tebow’s unique skill set. Injuries limited Thomas to seven starts his first two seasons in Denver.

Last season, they combined for 76 catches and 13 TDs.

This season, they had a friendly game of one-upmanship going all season — “Me and Deck are always competing against each other,” Thomas noted. Add Manning to the mix with his pinpoint passes and, at times, equally sharp pointers, and Thomas and Decker thrived under his tutelage.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014