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Julius Thomas: A game-changer for Broncos?

Published: July 28, 2013, 1:08 pm, by Paul Klee

Posed this question in Sunday’s column: Who will be the breakout player to emerge from this Broncos training camp?

I lean toward Derek Wolfe. There’s a quiet confidence among Broncos in Wolfe, the second-year defensive end, that he can be the man if Von Miller is suspended for four games — or if Miller is not.

Another candidate is Julius Thomas. It’s a dangerous practice to project major contributions simply from watching practice, which is what training camp is. Tuesday warriors don’t always equate to Sunday heroes.

I’m a heckuva golfer on the driving range; shooting 72 on the golf course is usually another matter.

But in the early days of training camp, Thomas has been so solid, so eye-catching, that it makes you wonder if he’s more than a Dove Valley dynamo and can play a major role at Sports Authority Field. For one, the 255-pound tight end is finally healthy. For two, the Broncos don’t have anything like him. Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme are gamers, reliable and steady.

Thomas is the kind of rare athlete at tight end, however, that can break a big play. I like him quite a bit, both as a person and as a football player. He’s intelligent and won’t have trouble picking up the Broncos’ fast-paced tempo on offense.

But the biggest question remains: Is he too fragile to make it in the NFL? Time will tell on that one. If he does, don’t be surprised if the former college basketball player is the starting tight end. That seems like an improbable leap for a guy with one career reception (for 5 yards).

But Thomas is an intriguing talent, the kind of athlete that could add yet another element to Peyton Manning’s offense.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette