ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas will have to wait a little bit longer to celebrate his mother's freedom and treat her to her first NFL game.
The star receiver's plans to fly Katina Smith to Denver this weekend were scuttled by a 60-day travel restriction following her release from a halfway house in Georgia. She had been staying there since President Barack Obama cut short her drug trafficking sentence last summer as part of his push to reduce the prison population of non-violent offenders.
Thomas was hoping his mother would see him play in person for the first time when the Broncos (7-1) face the Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) on Sunday.
''She won't be able to make it,'' Thomas said. ''But besides that, it's good to have her out finally.''
Smith has only seen her son play on the TV sets at the halfway house or at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida, where she and her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, were serving time for drug trafficking convictions. Both would wear No. 88 ''jerseys'' they crafted with strips of tape on their prison-issued clothing.
Thomas' father was serving in the Army and stationed in Kuwait when his mother and grandmother were arrested in 1999. Thomas, 11 years old at the time, went to live with an aunt and uncle, Shirley and James Brown, a Baptist minister who lived six miles away.
A budding basketball and track star, Thomas took up football to stay off the streets and out of trouble. He went on to play at Georgia Tech and was a first-round draft pick by Denver in 2010. Last summer, he signed a five-year extension worth $70 million a few days after his mother called with news of her commuted sentence.
Thomas got another call from her this week, this time at midnight following her release from the halfway house. She couldn't sleep.
''I'm going home,'' she told him.
''My auntie went to go pick her up,'' Thomas said. ''It was exciting and I was happy for her. I was hoping that she could try to get out here or (I could) try to go see her, but I have work days for me and she can't travel right now.''
So, the mother and child reunion will have to wait a while longer.
Thomas said he's going to check with his mother's probation officer to see if she can get special permission to travel before the two-month restriction.
If nothing else, maybe she can see Thomas in the playoffs, providing the Broncos reach the divisional round Jan. 16-17.
''It's just a blessing to have her out now,'' Thomas said. ''She can finally, probably, get a chance to come see me play live. That's all that she's been talking about.''
Thomas no longer has to wait for his mother's calls but can call her whenever he feels like it, and she texts him a dozen times a day like a teenager with a new cellphone.
Besides wanting to watch him play in person, Smith has something else in mind for when she sees her son: racing him.
''She thinks that she can outrun me for some reason,'' Thomas said. ''That's all that she's been talking about. The other thing was that she wanted to get a Walkman. People don't even use Walkman anymore. We're going to try and get her some music on her new phone that she has.''
What Thomas is envisioning from his reunion, whenever it happens, is that first hug.
''I'm hoping that it'll be here,'' he said. ''I know that it'll be emotional. I'm sure that I'll break down and start crying. I'm sure that she will, too.''
Notes: WR Emmanuel Sanders (left ankle) missed practice all week and is a game-time decision. ... Peyton Manning (right foot) was a full participant again Friday. ''He looked good, threw the ball around good and moved good. He had a good day,'' said coach Gary Kubiak. ... SS T.J. Ward said he'll appeal both fines he received this week, $17,363 for his hit on Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, and $5,787 for having his jersey untucked. ''They both upset me equally,'' said Ward, stressing he's been hitting players like that and wearing his jersey the same way since he entered the NFL in 2010.
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