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Big test looms for one of Peyton Manning’s key targets

Julius Thomas AP

In the conference playoffs, no tight end was better than Denver’s Julius Thomas.

However, in the Super Bowl, he faces a Seattle defense capable of blanketing the game’s best tight ends.

Through two postseason games, Thomas ranks second on the Broncos in catches (14), receiving yards (161) and targets (18) behind wideout Demaryius Thomas.

Possessing very good speed, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Julius Thomas can be deployed like a wide receiver, which can create difficulties for opposing defenses.

Thomas was the star of the longest play in the Broncos’ AFC title-game win vs. New England. With Denver facing a 2nd-and-10 at its 25-yard-line with a 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Thomas split out wide left, drawing linebacker Jamie Collins in coverage. Collins pressed Thomas at the line, but the Broncos’ tight end simply ran by him.

Now, the Patriots had a problem. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hit Thomas in stride, and the Broncos had a 37-yard gain.

It will be interesting to see how the Broncos utilize Thomas in Super Bowl XLVIII. In the Seahawks’ two postseason wins, opposing tight ends have caught a combined five passes for 60 yards in 13 targets, with neither the Saints’ Jimmy Graham (one catch, eight yards) nor the 49ers’ Vernon Davis (two catches, 16 yards) having much impact.

Thomas has been targeted at least five times in each of the last eight games. There’s no doubting he’s a key part of the offense, and with two weeks to prepare, Denver will try to find some ways to get the matchups it wants with Thomas. Then, it comes down to execution against one of the NFL’s very best defenses.

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16 Responses to “Big test looms for one of Peyton Manning’s key targets”
  1. backdapack4evr says: Jan 20, 2014 12:57 PM

    Denver wins big
    Too many weapons to cover

  2. thebirdofprey2 says: Jan 20, 2014 1:01 PM

    Last year I would have said Seattle could get exposed by good TE play inside. This year KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner stepped up their coverage game.

    I am not sure if of you saw the Kam Chancellor hit that Vernon Davis took last night but that was the 2nd murder shot on him over the middle. Fast LBs, excellent safeties and a true nickel CB in Walter Thurmond are the reason they match up so well against these new age TE’s. Pete Carroll’s scheme is something special. I admit it will be tested by the best in 2 weeks.

  3. mrlaloosh says: Jan 20, 2014 1:03 PM

    Not only Julius Thomas. How about Welker? Can you imagine Welker trying that cheap shot on Cam Chancellor? It won’t be pretty. For all the hoopla surrounding Richard Sherman the real star of the Seahawks secondary was a Chancellor. What a game he played!
    The only hope for the Broncos is Decker on Maxwell. Moreno and Ball won’t be able to run. Manning will be a sitting target who’ll get blasted repeatedly.
    Russell Wilson will have a huge game running and throwing. SAttle should open A 5 or 6 point favorite.

  4. rbirving says: Jan 20, 2014 1:06 PM

    Normally, Peyton only has one week to study a defense. The Super Bowl gives him two weeks to study the Seattle defense.

    He has talented weapons at every skill position and can read your defense like a it was the Sunday funnies.

    I think the Seahawks should go right ahead and plan their victory party now, because that’s as close as they’ll get to having one.

  5. nwpapap says: Jan 20, 2014 1:12 PM

    Demaryius Thomas is the one who is 225lbs. Julius Thomas, the TE, is 255.

  6. siknutty says: Jan 20, 2014 1:20 PM

    Peyton Manning will never be a sitting target. He has the quickest release in the game. Our o-line is pretty good, yet Manning makes them look amazing because he constantly gets the ball out quickly.

    Denver has a good run defense and very fast and athletic linebackers that will be able to contain Wilson. Denver should be able to shut down your running game and make you beat us through the air.

  7. beauregard says: Jan 20, 2014 1:44 PM

    Actually, it should read “Big Test Looms for the Seattle Defense as it faces the #1 Offense in NFL History.”
    Manning will not be sacked, and has a lot more weapons on offense than Seattle has defenders. There will always be someone open.
    This game won’t even be close.

  8. doctorrustbelt says: Jan 20, 2014 2:11 PM

    I think Denver has too much wide receiver depth.

    Denver ain’t a two wide receiver team.

    In games were Julius Thomas total less than 47 yards…. Denver has won EIGHT of those nine games.

    The one loss…. Denver had 4 fumbles (none by Thomas) and Peyton went 3 td – 1 int against Indy who put up 39 points.

  9. stealthjunk says: Jan 20, 2014 2:12 PM

    Unlike the Saints and 49ers, the Broncos actually have other weapons on the field. The Seahawks could just key in on Graham and Davis because there were few other threats in the passing game. But with Thomas, Thomas, Decker, and Welker, as well as the RBs out of the backfield, they will not have the same luxury. If the Seahawks do choose to go that route, it just means J. Thomas’s catches and yards will be reallocated elsewhere.

  10. chimps000 says: Jan 20, 2014 2:22 PM

    this game comes down to the weather- if the weather is semi decent, then seattle has no way to score enough points to keep pace. Their defense is excellent, but its one thing to shut down vernon davis, the mediocre (for a #1 wr) crabtree, and a good #2 wr boldin, and a whole nother thing when you are facing thomas, decker, welker, and julius thomas, all with payton manning at the helm getting the ball out in 2 seconds.

    If weather is super windy, it would be a huge advantage to seattle, as their offense is weak anyways.

  11. doctorrustbelt says: Jan 20, 2014 2:34 PM

    What?!? No mention of Demaryius Walker?!?

    LOL!!!

  12. dvdheg says: Jan 21, 2014 1:31 AM

    oh come on. do you really think manning and co. have a chance against the hawks?Wow I’ll take your money if anyone wants to bet. GO HAWKS!!!!!!

  13. kkalama1 says: Jan 21, 2014 1:38 AM

    Tell us all again how Graham, Crabtree, Davis, Boldin or the all mighty Drew Brees did against the Seattle D? Manning is gonna at least get hurried or knocked down by Seattles relentless D. I thought that these teams were supposed to stop Lynch?

  14. oldlthrneck says: Jan 22, 2014 8:46 AM

    It’s going to be a great game. The games against SD, this year, proved that Denver is vulnerable to the run. We shall she what happens. Just like the SD games. Manning has to be on the field to score. I think the Hawks have a better running game than the Chargers and they proved that Manning is beatable.

  15. karlmarxism says: Jan 22, 2014 1:30 PM

    I remember Denver playing KC when they were the #1 ranked defense with their killer pass rush and shut down secondary. What happened in that game will happen in the SB. KC managed to cover all the receivers except for just one–Decker ended up catching 4 TDs that game breaking a Bronco franchise record. Don’t be surprised if Moreno becomes the superstar of this game catching out of the backfield in which he is far more effective vs. running out of the backfield.

    Oh, and Peyton wasn’t touched once.

  16. nodindenver says: Jan 22, 2014 1:52 PM

    I think Demaryius Thomas is fixing to give Percy a show on what it looks like to truly explode. DT is a big man on a huge mission! Go Broncos

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