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Thomas is a big receiver who's coming up bigger

Thomas is a big receiver who's coming up bigger

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas is the biggest wide receiver Peyton Manning has ever played with and he's coming up bigger and bigger by the week.

``Every time I play with him, I feel like we improve,'' Manning said.

After injuries limited him to seven starts in his first two seasons in Denver, Thomas has had a breakout season with Manning delivering sharp passes and pointers alike.

With 74 catches for 1,197 yards and eight touchdowns, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound wide receiver is a big reason the Broncos (10-3) haven't lost in more than two months and are making a charge for one of the two AFC playoff byes.

Last week, Thomas caught two head-turning touchdown passes that even had Manning amazed at the chemistry these two have formed in just 13 games together.

On one, Manning and Thomas recognized a mismatch and changed the play on the fly, and Thomas reached high between a Tampa Bay safety and linebacker in tight coverage to snare the TD throw. On the other score, Thomas curled around a cornerback in the end zone and just as he turned, the pass from Manning was in the crick of his right elbow.

``I was like, man, how did you get that through there?'' Thomas said. ``He was on me like a blanket.''

It was an example of the rapport Thomas and Manning have quickly developed in their short time together.

``An old coach would call that an anticipatory throw,'' Manning said. ``... I threw that ball super early and Demaryius kind of came right around the DB and made a heck of a catch. That was really a special play.''

It reinforced everything everybody told Thomas when Manning signed with the Broncos back in March: get open and he'll get you the ball where no one else can touch it.

``That was an amazing throw. I never saw anything like that in my life,'' Thomas said. ``This guy just does things every week that it's like, gosh, this guy amazes me.''

That's precisely what so many are now saying about Thomas, who is tied with Detroit's Calvin ``Megatron'' Johnson with 17 receptions of 25 or more yards and ranks second to Carolina's Steve Smith with 16.2 yards per catch among receivers with at least 60 receptions.

Thomas became a household name last year despite playing in Tim Tebow's ultra-conservative option offense that didn't allow receivers to really strut their stuff. His 109.3-yard receiving average in December and January was bested only by Johnson.

Then came that first play of overtime against Pittsburgh in the playoffs, when Thomas hauled in a high play-action pass on a crossing pattern, stiff-armed Ike Taylor and outraced Ryan Mundy into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown that gave Denver its first postseason win since 2005.

Eight months after scoring the longest overtime touchdown in NFL playoff history, the big receiver burned the Steelers again by hauling in Manning's milestone 400th touchdown toss, turning a ``smoke screen'' pass at the line of scrimmage into a zigzagging 71-yard score.

While others marvel at his size and speed or even his great hands, teammate Brandon Stokley said it's the big man's footwork that's so impressive.

``For a guy that big, it's unbelievable,'' Stokley said.

Against San Diego last month, for instance, the officials ruled Thomas had only gotten one foot inbounds on a full sprint through the left corner of the end zone, but in slow motion replay they saw him drag his right foot ever so slightly as his momentum carried him out of bounds.

Touchdown, Thomas.

``He's got the total package and he's worked extremely hard on the details of things,'' Stokley said. ``And that's gotten him a lot better, and I think that's come from having Peyton here and from working with Peyton.''

It also helped to have a full training camp.

Thomas was dogged by a broken foot, sprained ankle, concussion, torn Achilles and fractured finger in his first two seasons after leaving Georgia Tech following his junior season. He missed training camp his rookie year after aggravating a foot injury and he missed camp last year after tearing an Achilles tendon in offseason workouts.

He was coming off yet another surgery, to remove pins in his left pinkie, when Manning signed with the Broncos in the spring. So, he got a late start working with his new quarterback while fellow starting wide receiver Eric Decker became Manning's shadow and workout partner.

Thomas quickly caught up, though.

``I thought it would be a concern at first but I knew whenever I got back on the field I just had to work and work and just listen and pay attention and do everything that he wanted me to do,'' Thomas said.

His head was swimming so much at first that Thomas said he felt like he was in kindergarten with Manning the teacher. Now, he feels like he's at least working on a college degree with his quarterback.

``I feel that I've stepped up and I just think the chemistry is going to build higher and higher,'' Thomas said.

Notes: WLB Wesley Woodyard and RG Chris Kuper, who missed last week's game against Oakland with sprained ankles, both returned to practice. ... Coach John Fox said he doesn't expect the Broncos' next opponent, the Baltimore Ravens (9-4), to change much offensively even though Cam Cameron was fired Monday as offensive coordinator and replaced by QB coach Jim Caldwell, who was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11.

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

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How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

How to watch Pistons at Wizards ‘Predict the Game’ broadcast

The Washington Wizards return to Capital One Arena to host the Detroit Pistons on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 2 p.m. 

The Wizards are hoping to not only bounce back after suffering from a tough 140-111 loss in Toronto Friday night but also to snap their losing streak at home. Monday’s game will be the Wizards last home, before hitting the road until they return home on January 30th. 

The Wizards currently lead the series 2-1, the Wizards won both matchups against the Pistons on Nov.4 and Dec. 16. However, most recently the Wizards fell short 132-102 on Dec 26th. Will the Wizards be able to win the season series on Monday?

Take your Wizards experience to the next level and get involved in the action with NBC Sports Washington's newest Predict the Game contest.

'PREDICT THE GAME' HOW TO WATCH

What is this broadcast? Predict the Game is an easy-to-enter, free contest that allows fans to predict various game and player performance outcomes through a series of approximately 12-15 questions per quarter that will appear on-screen during the alternate telecast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Predict the Game leaderboards will be displayed at select times, and the winner of each contest will be revealed throughout the game and during NBC Sports Washington’s postgame coverage.

Where can I find it? Contest questions and leaderboards will be displayed on NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder).

Additionally, the broadcast can be streamed on desktopiOS and Android devices. 

The NBC Sports Washington Plus presentation will, for the first time, feature special hosts, who will appear at various times to address Predict the Game participants and provide contest updates, information and results. The enhanced experience will contain the majority of the same video and audio (including announcers) as the primary live-game coverage, which will be available simultaneously on NBC Sports Washington.

How do I win? Fans will earn points for both answering questions (1 point) and correct predictions (1 or 2 points, depending on the question), with the top eligible scorer at the end of each game earning or splitting the $500 prize.

Each quarter will be its own contest, with an entirely new leaderboard starting from scratch, so even if fans miss out on the start of the game there will still be plenty of time to play and win. 

Fans must enter Predict the Game, which is open to join throughout the entire game, and submit their predictions at www.nbcsportswashington.com/predict.

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Pistons will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Pistons on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. PISTONS TV SCHEDULE

1:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

1:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

2:00 PM: Wizards vs. Pistons (LIVE)

4:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

5:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS 2019-20 'PREDICT THE GAME' SCHEDULE

January 6: vs Boston (7 p.m.)

January 20: vs Detroit (2 p.m.)

January 26: at Atlanta (6 p.m.)

February 3: vs Golden State (7 p.m.)

February 11: vs Chicago (7 p.m.)

February 21: vs Cleveland (7 p.m.)

February 26: vs Brooklyn (7 p.m.)

March 3: at Sacramento (10 p.m.)

March 10: vs New York (7 p.m.)

March 18: at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m.)

March 15: vs Phoenix (7 p.m.)

April 1: vs New Orleans (7 p.m.)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 Sunday to advance to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. 

Suggs, who spent 16 seasons with the Ravens, will look to cement his Hall of Fame candidacy with a victory in his second Super Bowl appearance (Won SB XLVII) this time as a member of the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Suggs departed from Baltimore before the 2019 season, signing a one-year deal with his hometown Arizona Cardinals before being waived mid-season. 

The Ravens were rumored to be interested in a reunion with their all-time leader in sacks but did not put in a claim, being last in waiver priority, and Suggs was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs.



While the Ravens' 2019 season ended prematurely at the hands of the Titans, fans in Baltimore can take solace knowing that Suggs and the Chiefs helped bring the Titans' magical season to an end.

Suggs' accolades (2011 AP Def. Player of the Year, 2003 AP Def. Rookie of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowl, 1x All-Pro) will stand the test of time, but adding a second Super Bowl ring to his resume would make his Hall of Fame candidacy that much greater. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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