ENGLEWOOD • Realistically, running backs Marcus Thomas and Marcus Thigpen are injury fill-ins for the Denver Broncos. They’ll keep practices going, perhaps finish out a preseason game or two and, most likely, be let go in a few weeks.
But they can’t think of it that way. Regardless that they were signed in the past week because of injuries at tailback, they’re in an NFL training camp.
That’s an opportunity to win a job.
“It’s like I’ve got a clock in my head,” said Thomas, a second-year player who signed last Wednesday after Ryan Torain hurt his knee and was cut. “I’ve got three weeks to impress these coaches.”
The challenge is immense. Most of the 80 players Denver has have been studying the playbook for at least four months. Thigpen didn’t even have 4 hours of study time before his first practice. Thigpen arrived Sunday at about 7:30 a.m., took his physical, signed his contract and had just enough time to learn some basics before practice that afternoon.
“It’s like being thrown to wolves,” said Thigpen, a rookie who signed after Knowshon Moreno hurt his knee in a preseason game two days earlier. “You listen, and watch the older guys.”
Neither can depend on playing time or many practice repetitions. Thomas was supposed to play against the 49ers, but the game was close and Denver ran its 2-minute offense so he stayed on the bench. They can only hope to make an impression.
“I’m in here late,” Thigpen said. “I just have to show them what I can do and take it from there.”