Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas steadily heals from hip ailment
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas' aching left hip only bothers him when he makes sharp cuts or takes a hit.
In other words, just about everything the Denver Broncos receiver does on the field.
Still, Thomas feels optimistic about his playing status Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Broncos will take an extra cautious approach with Thomas to make sure he stays strong for the season.
Understandable, since last year Thomas dealt with a neck injury that lingered for most of the season.
For a second straight day, Thomas was limited in practice. He took the same number of reps Thursday as the day before, but these were a little more significant, coach Gary Kubiak said.
''We try to script him the right way to get reps, but not have him waste a lot of running in other areas,'' Kubiak said.
Thomas said he hurt the hip on his second catch in a season-opening win over Carolina on Thursday - a short reception during the Broncos' second drive. He had an MRI and then had it sent off for a second opinion.
''Protocol,'' he said.
Steadily, his hip is getting less and less sore. The extra days of rest have definitely helped.
''I think I'll be fine,'' said Thomas, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract before last season.
''We're still going to take it day by day. ... Come game time, nothing to worry about then because you're either going to go out and be 100 (percent) to help the team or be on the sideline.''
Although he's optimistic, he's learned the painful way not to rush back.
Thomas was bothered by a neck ailment after taking a hit from Minnesota safety Harrison Smith last October. It stayed with him.
And while Thomas posted his second consecutive 100-catch season and fourth straight season with at least 1,300 yards receiving, he was a non-factor in the playoffs, catching just seven of 21 passes thrown his way for 60 yards and no touchdowns.
Thomas has been hampered by injuries before, missing the first five games in 2011 while recovering from an offseason Achilles tendon injury and a broken thumb suffered in training camp.
In 2010, the first-round pick out of Georgia Tech missed the first game of his rookie season with a foot ailment. He missed more later in the season because of a balky ankle.
Lately, he's been extremely durable - starting every game since 2012.
''Knock on wood,'' Thomas said as he did just that on his locker. ''It (injuries) happens with what we do as a profession. You keep getting your treatment and hopefully by game day you're ready to go and hopefully nothing freaky happens.''
Should Thomas be limited, things would open up for receiver Emmanuel Sanders, along with Cody Latimer and Jordan Taylor. Bennie Fowler could potentially see more playing time as well.
First, though, he has to fully mend. Fowler was a ''DNP'' - did not practice - for a second straight day.
The 23-year-old receiver from Michigan State has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his left elbow during a preseason game on Aug. 11. Fowler said he's ''100 percent'', but would leave it up to the coaching staff whether he would play.
''I know that D.T. might be struggling a little bit with his hip right now,'' Fowler said. ''But at the same time, I can't go out there and risk myself getting hurt and setting myself back.''
NOTES: DE Derek Wolfe was limited in practice because of a sore neck. ''He practiced yesterday and (it) got a little sore on him,'' Kubiak said. ''We'll see where he's at (Friday).'' ... OL Ty Sambrailo (elbow/ankle) was limited in practice Thursday.
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