ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Demaryius Thomas is a little bit country. Emmanuel Sanders is a little bit rock n’ roll.
Together, they make up one heck of a dynamic duo.
“They can both hit a home run at any time,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said. “As a tandem, I can’t imagine there are many better.”
It should be no wonder then when, like every receiver in the history of the sport, Sanders and Thomas complain when they aren’t given the football.
Last week, nearly all the conversation surrounding the Broncos’ top two receivers centered around comments they made about the lack of targets they’d had through the first two games of the season. In fact, Sanders went as far as to directly call out head coach Gary Kubiak’s play-calling ability.
“We’ve got to score, we’ve got to execute better. At some point, if what we’re doing isn’t working, I feel like the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results,” Sanders said at that time. “I feel like if it doesn’t keep working, we should change it up, maybe pass more or call different pass plays.”
After week three, however, when both Sanders and Thomas went off for a combined 15 receptions, 217-yards, and three touchdowns, Sanders’ tune noticeably changed.
“I think we took more shots down the field. Kubiak was calling some plays,” Sanders said emphatically. “I think we threw the football a little bit more and we threw it in the red zone and that attributes to our success.”
Thomas and Sanders’ complaints last week caused some to describe them as “divas,” a word used since time immemorial to paint receivers as selfish. Yet, instead of pushing back against it, Sanders chose to wear that title like a badge of honor.
“I don’t mind being a diva,” Sanders joked. “I am a diva. I like winning ball games. I like catching passes. Every wide receiver in the world likes to catch passes; every wide receiver in the world likes to put up points.”
Demaryius is a diva as well, Sanders said. Just a very particular, down-home, grits and gravy kind of diva.
“He’s like a country diva,” Sanders said. “I’m like a Hollywood diva.”
Thomas embraced his teammate’s description.
“I’m from the country,” Thomas said as the crowd of assembled media broke out in laughter. “I drive a Ford Raptor. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.”
So, the Broncos have a pair of dominant divas catching passes for them—like a more athletic Batman and Robin. And, like most dynamic duos, they get along like peanut butter and jelly.
“I think it begins with the friendship,” Thomas said. “We came up together when we got drafted. We kind of knew each other and then once he came here we just clicker like brothers, like friends. We push each other every week to try to see who can be better just to try to be the best that does it.”
Sanders and Thomas have already had special individual careers.
Through six plus years in the NFL, Thomas has caught 471 passes for 6,859-yards and 48 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Sanders was used as a No. 3 receiver during his early years in Pittsburgh. Since signing in Denver during the 2014 offseason, he’s recorded 306 catches, 2,744 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns.
Together, though, they make up one of the best receiver tandems in the history of the sport.
“If you’re going to double team me, you’re going to have to deal with him,” Thomas said. “If you double team him, you’re going to have to deal with me. That’s not being cocky, it’s that we put in the work and we know what we can and what we can’t do.”
The compliment each other brilliantly. Sanders is a quick and shift weapon, who can slip behind defenses and use his mental and physical toughness to out-hustle opposing defensive backs.
Thomas, meanwhile, is a physical freak. He’s one of the largest, strongest, and fastest targets in the National Football League and he knows how to use his 6’3,” 230-pound frame to his advantage.
“That’s my game,” Thomas said. “I’ve got to take advantage of it, and I do use my body most of the time when the ball’s in the air instead of sometimes jumping.”
Thunder and lightning.
Bacon and eggs.
The Broncos are lucky to have their dynamic duo of receivers, and they know it.
“Those guys work their tails off in practice,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. “They hang out, when I see them anyway, they compete. They compete with the DB’s and I think they compete with each other. They just work so hard…I’m glad we have them.”