LY­ING IN WAIT

The Denver Post - - NFL SUNDAY - By Nick Groke

What’s in Bron­cos fu­ture

De­mary­ius Thomas will mark more than a game Sun­day night when the Bron­cos play a must-win game against the Chiefs at Kansas City’s Ar­row­head Sta­dium. Sun­day is Christ­mas. And that means it’s also Thomas’ birth­day.

Born in a sin­gle-story house in tiny Mon­trose, Ga., a ru­ral town half­way be­tween At­lanta and Sa­van­nah, Christ­mas for Thomas when he was grow­ing up was much warmer than Christ­mas in Den­ver or Kansas City. Play­ing foot­ball on Dec. 25 might seem strange for the Bron­cos’ vet­eran wide re­ceiver, but he is ac­cus­tomed to cel­e­brat­ing his birth­day and Christ­mas at the same time.

In the Bron­cos’ first game against the Chiefs this sea­son, Thomas had five catches for 60 yards. His fel­low wide re­ceiver, Em­manuel San­ders, caught seven passes for 162 yards, while quar­ter­back Trevor Siemian threw for 368 yards and three touch­downs.

But the Bron­cos lost that game in over­time. Thomas talked to re­porters last week about cel­e­brat­ing his birth­day on Dec. 25 and fac­ing the Chiefs in a cru­cial AFC game Sun­day. Q: Have you played on your birth­day be­fore?

A: First time.

Q: What do you think it will be like? A: You never know. We’ll find out. I know it’s go­ing to be cold. But it’s my first time.

Q: What’s it like be­ing a Christ­mas baby? A: It’s not the best, but it’s not bad either. You feel cool some­times, but you get robbed when you’re a kid. They used to hit me with “Happy Birth­day, Merry Christ­mas.” I was just like, “OK.” But then as I got older, I was like, you used to get a gift and then you would get Christ­mas on my birth­day. The part that both­ers me is when you have to buy gifts for other peo­ple on your birth­day. I’m still try­ing to get over that. I’m buy­ing Christ­mas gifts, but it’s my birth­day.

Q: Are you buy­ing gifts for team­mates?

A: No.

Q: Did kicker Bran­don McManus set the bar too high giv­ing ev­ery­body one­sies? A: Well, it’s my birth­day. Maybe I’ll buy them gifts for New Year’s, but not my birth­day.

Q: Why was the of­fense so ef­fec­tive against Kansas City in the se­cond half of the first meet­ing this sea­son? A: I think it was bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion. We didn’t re­ally turn over the ball, we took care of the ball. And we took ad­van­tage of short fields when we had them.

Q: Den­ver put up some big num­bers against the Chiefs. A: Yeah, I think as a team we should have won that game. But we have a lot of con­fi­dence right now. We know what we need to do. First off, it’s tak­ing care of the ball and not get­ting turnovers. And then go­ing off of that.

Q: As a team cap­tain, did you have to set the locker room straight be­tween the de­fense and the of­fense? A: It’s not just set­ting them straight. Some­times you have to be silent and just let it blow over. I’m one of those guys, you be silent and get the guys on your side of the ball work­ing. Get our con­fi­dence back and make sure we go back, play as a team and get bet­ter.

De­mary­ius Thomas has 83 catches for 1,016 yards and five touch­downs this sea­son for the Bron­cos, who have to win out and get help from other teams to qual­ify for the play­offs. John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

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