In the first snap of a full-team, goal-line drill Saturday, Broncos coaches sent rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas out with the first-team offense. Thomas, who was Denver's first pick in April's draft, promptly caught a pass from Kyle Orton that went for a touchdown.
Thomas has participated in only five practices this offseason after recovering from February foot surgery, but he is impressing coaches with his steady improvement, enough so that he has earned playing time alongside starters Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal.
"He's dropped a couple of balls, but look, everyone has seen this guy make tremendous catches and then there are some that he's dropped, but I think that comes with playing and knocking off some of the rust," Denver head coach Josh McDaniels said. "I think he'll only get better, every day, and today was better than yesterday."
Thomas spent several minutes after Friday's practice talking to former Broncos receiver Rod Smith, and Thomas said he used some of Smith's tips in Saturday's practice.
"It was basically about getting off the line and press and using my body and using my shoulders," Thomas said. "That's something I never did before."
Even if he's not a starter, Thomas should see plenty of playing time as the Broncos frequently use spread formations. On paper, he should contend for a starting spot as he's more talented than Gaffney and Royal, but his fantasy value is largely limited to keeper leagues at this point.