Thomas vows to bounce back from big drops

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas can't quite put his finger on his butterfingers.

''First time ever,'' Denver's star receiver replied when asked when was the last time he dropped three passes in a game as he did in the Broncos' opener.

Not at West Laurens High School in Montrose, Ga., where he won a state basketball championship as a senior after earning a college football scholarship.

Not at Georgia Tech, where he was lucky to be targeted three times in a game by the run-oriented Yellow Jackets.

Then came the Colts on Sunday night, and Thomas dropped two passes on third downs and another in which he was wide open for a big gain.

''It was bothering me after the first one and I guess I let it linger on and bother me the other two,'' Thomas said.

This from the two-time Pro Bowler who even made the erratic Tim Tebow look good back in 2011.

''I don't know what it was,'' Thomas said. ''Probably thinking too much.''

In the first quarter, Thomas was running free with two blockers in front of him when the ball skipped off his hands. He dropped another in the third quarter and one in the fourth, helping the Colts whittle away a 24-point deficit to a single touchdown.

Thomas dropped eight of the 142 passes thrown his way last season. He dropped three Sunday night when he was targeted 11 times.

''You can't figure it out,'' Thomas said. ''You've got to let that go. Once it's a drop, it's a drop. You've got to go on to the next play.''

And yet, Thomas didn't do that as one dropped turned into two and then three.

The Broncos' coaching staff counted five drops altogether from Peyton Manning's pass catchers in Denver's 31-24 win.

''It was a little surprising to see that, especially D.T. having a couple of them, which is very unusual,'' offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. ''I think last year he was probably one of our better guys (dropping only 5.6 percent of passes). He's playing a different spot, has a lot on his plate. Maybe that first one got in his head a little bit.''

All of his drops came within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage with significant yards after the catch a possibility.

''My main thing was trying to get the ball up the field too fast,'' Thomas said. ''So, this week has been mainly watch the ball in before I make the move.''

Thomas led the league in yards after the catch in 2013. Almost half - 704 - of his 1,430 yards on 92 receptions came with the ball in his hands.

''He knows the play really well so he knows he's got a chance for a big play sometimes,'' Gase said. ''And you get ready to take off and especially how explosive he is, he's looking to get that ball in his hands as fast as possible and get north. It's just a little bit of a concentration deal and that's the one thing that he's going to do real well.

''The guy can refocus and start over and it's a new week.''

This was Thomas' sixth sub-50-yard game since 2012. In games following those performances, he's bounced back with an average of six catches for 109 yards with four TDs.

According to SportingCharts.com, Thomas has been targeted 403 times in his career and dropped 29 passes, or 7.1 percent.

This year that number is a whopping 27.3 percent.

''It's over with,'' Thomas said. ''It's gone now. New team, new week. That game right there, we won and that's all that really matters.''

Notes: Another Broncos player who's coming off a career first is All-Pro RG Louis Vasquez. He's been flagged just seven times in his six-year career but two came Sunday, when he was whistled twice for holding. On one of them, he deliberately held his man to keep Manning from getting pummeled. ''I'm not going to let it affect my game,'' Vasquez said. ... Dan Reeves, Gene Mingo and Rick Upchurch will be inducted into the Broncos' Ring of Fame on Sunday. ... G Ben Garland (ankle) practiced Friday for the first time this month.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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