Rod Smith still mentoring star receiver Demaryius Thomas
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Rod Smith had a piece of advice for star receiver Demaryius Thomas: the Denver Broncos aren't paying you $70 million just to catch passes.
After encouraging a fatigued Thomas during practice Tuesday, Smith huddled with the Pro Bowler afterward and admonished him to be more of a leader as he enters his sixth season in the NFL.
''They didn't just buy his talent,'' Smith later explained. ''They bought his leadership ability, because he's an on-the-field coach for his group and he's got to make those guys be better by his example.''
Thomas, who missed the entire offseason program before agreeing to a contract extension in mid-July, was fatigued on Day 10 of training camp, just as Smith had figured.
''This was my first time coming out here this year. And the reason I wait is I want to catch them when they're tired,'' Smith said. ''And a couple guys early, D.T. was tired, he was dragging.''
''Dude, no, this is when you've got to get better,'' Smith told him.
''Yeah, but,'' Thomas said between huffs and puffs.
''I don't care. Step it up right now and never let it come back.''
Thomas made a nice play on a quick post from Peyton Manning, which energized the offense. Bubba Caldwell caught a long touchdown pass from Manning moments later. Then, Bennie Fowler followed with two great catches.
''See what happens?'' Smith told Thomas. ''You're the snowball, you've just go to get rolling.''
Thomas said he appreciates the pep talks from Smith, who played in Denver from 1994-2007 and has served as his mentor since his rookie season.
''He's been giving me wisdom since I got to Denver,'' Thomas said. ''It was basically being a leader, being a better leader. They didn't keep me here just because I'm a good ballplayer but being a leader, telling the younger guys what they need to do to be better and to help this team out.''
Thomas appreciates the tough love.
''Every time I see him, I have to ask him one question to help my game out,'' Thomas said. ''It's very important because now the younger guys are doing the same thing that I did when I was younger.''
Notes: OT Matt Hall, whom the Broncos were awarded off waivers Monday from Indianapolis, decided to retire rather than report. The Broncos had waived WR David Porter to make room for Hall, so their roster stands at 89. ... The undrafted player who's turning heads at Broncos camp is ILB Zaire Anderson, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound rookie from Nebraska. ''You're right, he has flashed,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ''He flashes every day. He's small. You watch him stature-wise work out and you say, `Can he play in there?' But there have been some great guys do that. I think of Zach Thomas for many, many years standing across from that center. (Anderson is) a leader. He handles the huddle really well. He loves contact.''
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