SAN FRANCISCO, CA-It’s funny how things can turn out sometimes. Denver Broncos super tandem wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both came into the NFL in 2010. They’re both 28 years old. They are in their sixth year in the league.
They’re teammates, but the Broncos’ playmakers couldn’t any different from one another when it comes to their respective skills set.
At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Sanders is the speed demon. Thomas, on the other hand, is built more like a tight end or linebacker with his 6-foot-3, 229-pound frame. They are the two offensive weapons the Broncos have that have made Peyton Manning’s life a little bit easier the last couple of seasons.
With Denver’s offense struggling with cohesiveness at times during the 2015 NFL season as Manning battled both injuries and effectiveness, the continuity of consistency from Thomas and Sanders, has been a welcomed salvo for the Broncos.
While their career paths on the journey to playing in Super Bowl 50 has been a little different, the contributions of both players this past season cannot be overstated and under appreciated.
These are some bad dudes. And they have been for some time now.
Thomas took the high road, being drafted by the Broncos with the 22nd pick of the first round in the 2010 NFL Draft. The speedy Sanders saw his stock dropped a couple of rounds before the Pittsburgh selected him with the 82nd pick in the third round. Yet in still, it took Thomas and Sanders both a while to hit their stride and start making some real noise on the playing field.
In first four season with the Steelers, Sanders never came close to hitting the 1,000-yard receiving plateau. Since he has been with Denver, Sanders has gone off the rails the last two seasons, catching 101 balls for 1, 404 yards in 2014, and snagging 76 passes for 1, 135 yards. That’s old news for Thomas, who has paid a visit to the 1,000-yard receiving club for the last four years.
So far, the pairing has been great for both players, Sanders said.
“DT (Demaryius Thomas) goes and makes the big plays. I just go and make the small plays. Nah, I’m just playing (laughing), said Sanders. “We work well together. That’s Batman, I’m Robin. I’ve said that several times being in Denver is definitely an honor to work with him and hopefully we can win a championship. I tell him if we win a championship he’s never going to be able to not be around me. I’m going to be there forever so we’re just trying to keep it how it is.”
Despite catching 105 passes for 1, 304 yards in 2015, Thomas has taken some hits about dropping balls, which Sanders said has been more or less unfair to his teammate.
““You know, he does get a lot of criticism about drops and it’s not fair because everybody talks about his drops but everybody forget he got 1,300 yards this year,” Sanders said. “Come on man, he’s got 1,300! Leave the man alone. Last year he got 1,600? Okay, last year he got 1,600 and he may have eight drops but I’ll take that. You ask any organization in the National Football League if they’d take Demaryius Thomas and they’ll say, ‘Yes, bring him over here.’ I’m just happy to be a part. I’m happy to be his teammate. He’s a baller. He works his butt off. He has great character. I’m just happy for him with everything that has happened this year.”
For his part, Thomas says that playing alongside Sanders has helped his game tremendously.
“It’s big time because you say you can’t double team, but you still can,” Thomas said. “Having him on the other side, he goes out and makes big plays and has big games as well. It kind of takes the hard stuff off my back, so having him is big. He’s fast, quick. He can do it all.”