Peyton Manning saw Julius Thomas’s big game coming

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Prior to tonight’s game, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas had one catch for five yards in his NFL career. In the first half against the Ravens, Thomas had four catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

That probably led to a lot of fans asking, “Who is Julius Thomas?”

But Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning saw this coming. Manning said last week on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN that the Broncos had come to rely on Thomas during training camp, and he saw big things coming from the athletic young tight end.

“Well, we’ve had a number of injuries and while you hate seeing your starters get injured, it does allow an opportunity for maybe an unknown to step up and get some reps with the first team and sort of show what he’s about,” Manning said. “And we’ve had some injuries at tight end and Julius Thomas is a guy that I’m sure not many people know about but he has taken advantage of the repetitions he’s received with the first team. He’s an athlete, he’s a big guy that can really run and he really is taking advantage of the time with the starters and has made the most of it. I think he’ll play a big role for our team this year.”

Thomas played only one year of college football at Portland State after previously playing for Portland State’s basketball team, but the Broncos liked what they saw from that one season of football enough that they spent a fourth-round draft pick on him in 2011. It took some time, but that pick is now paying off.