KLEE: No need to dress it up, Broncos receivers are quite a pair

By Paul Klee Updated: November 7, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: November 7, 2012

ENGLEWOOD • For Halloween, Demaryius Thomas dressed as a replacement ref.

Eric Decker blogged about his plan to be a lobster.

We know this much at the midway point of the season: There isn’t a more prolific receiving duo in the NFL. The league doesn’t keep stats on costume originality.

Rolling into Denver’s game at Carolina on Sunday, Decker and Thomas have combined for 1,339 receiving yards — 2 more than Atlanta’s Roddy White and Julio Jones.

Decker has made 46 catches; Thomas has made 45. Decker has 16 career touchdowns, tying Lionel Taylor for the most by a Bronco through his first three seasons. This season, Thomas leads the NFL with 12 receptions of more than 25 yards.

Decker is 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, with a full head of flowing hair. Thomas is 6-3, 229, with no hair. On Wednesday, Decker had 75,568 followers on Twitter. Thomas had 61,279.

Decker turns 26 on March 15. Thomas will be 25 on Christmas Day.

Decker and Thomas are tight. As rookies they roomed together. They coordinate touchdown celebrations together. But this isn’t a joined-at-the-hip thing.

In terms of personalities, there seems to be more different than similar.

Decker has (at least) four commercial spots and a weekly appearance on a Denver radio show. He embraces the spotlight. During Thomas’ rookie season, when media hordes first ascended on his locker, his natural reaction was to locate the quickest exit.

Neither fits the stereotype that wide receivers must be brash and the center of attention.

“Every day we push each other. That’s the best thing about our relationship,” Decker said Wednesday. “We really respect one another. We’re good friends. We’re at the same position and we want to be great. Whether it’s by design in drill work or just in performance, there’s always that competitive spirit that’s there. And it’s helped us grow as young receivers.”

Now that both are healthy at the same time, the Broncos are witnessing rapid growth in both, and the offense is sizzling. During the three-game winning streak, Denver has scored 35, 31 and 34 points, with a stern challenge coming against Carolina.

Peyton Manning said months ago it would take time for the offense to click.

Click, click, click.

“I think (Manning) is more comfortable with our routes,” Decker said.

“Experience is your best teacher. I think I do know more about my teammates and what certain guys like,” Manning said. “(With) a receiver, you kind of know how his body moves and when he’s going to come out of a break. The more repetitions you get, the better.”

Decker is on a touchdown tear. He’s scored a receiving TD in five straight games, one shy of tying the Broncos record. In that stretch, Thomas is on a yardage tear (534, an average of 106.8).

“I think the guy that’s really started to benefit from this is Demaryius,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.

A pair of veterans are beneficial for both. The first one, Manning, is obvious. The second one, Brandon Stokley, stunted their TD celebration against the Saints but has been huge for their development.

Statistically speaking, how big can this receiving corps go?

In Denver, simply for comparison sake, Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey had their biggest season in 2000 (2,919 yards, 17 touchdowns). The 1998 season, in which the Broncos won the Super Bowl, wasn’t shabby, either (2,275, 16 TDs).

In Carolina, where Fox is returning this weekend, he had the tandem of Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith. In 2003, that duo had 1,947 yards and 10 TDs. The Panthers went to the Super Bowl.

In Indianapolis, Manning had Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. In 2006, that duo had 2,676 yards and 21 TDs. The Colts won the Super Bowl. (Out of reverence, it’s worth noting Manning’s pass-catching trio in 2004. Harrison, Wayne and Stokley combined for 3,400 yards and 37 TDs.)

Decker and Thomas are on pace for 2,679 yards and 22 TDs.

“I think in any relationship, whether it’s a significant other or a teammate, the more time you get, it always develops,” Decker said.

Those numbers don’t need a costume to impress.


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