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Brock Osweiler returns, will Demaryius Thomas' TD drought finally end?

Reception problems. Thomas has zero touchdowns
Posted at 1:58 PM, Nov 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 16:03:12-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Brock Osweiler took the snap, swiveled his head right and let loose a rainbow Thursday. Following the arc of the pass brought optimism, and this season, a rare pot of gold. Demaryius Thomas ran under the ball and jogged into the end zone.

What was once as predictable as a Scooby-Doo ending -- Thomas scoring a touchdown -- has not happened this season. Thomas owns exactly zero scores. It seems unthinkable for a 6-foot-4 target with a wide catch radius and good speed. A deeper dig creates more consternation.

A Broncos' receiver has not scored a touchdown since the second game of the season. And Thomas' scoreless drought spans 13 games dating to last season, and he owns one over the last 16.

Think on that for a minute.

Demaryius Thomas, who will one day become a Ring of Famer, appears to be a falling star. Teammates would argue against this. He is as well-respected as anyone in the locker room. He plays hurt, he plays hard, but his production is no longer akin to an elite receiver.

Thomas is on pace for 80 catches and 135 targets, his fewest since becoming a starter in 2012. Thomas dropped weight through a vegan diet in hopes of staying healthy. He is moving better than last year, but has yet to breakaway on a bubble screen or a long pass.

This week represents a prime opportunity to end the drought. Philadelphia has allowed 13 touchdown passes, ninth most in the NFL. Emmanuel Sanders, the last receiver to haul in a touchdown, returns this week after a two-week absence with an ankle injury. And did I mention Brock Osweiler is starting?

Perhaps, Osweiler can create a chemistry and connection with Thomas that was lacking this season with Siemian. Osweiler is the new, old quarterback. During his 5-2 stretch as a starter in 2015, Osweiler connected on five touchdowns with Thomas, including one in his debut at Chicago.

Prior to the season, coach Vance Joseph challenged Thomas to be dominant. He has provided leadership, but not the statistics. This week is about winning the turnover battle. As Osweiler put it, "ball security is job security." However, the Broncos will have a couple of chances downfield to take shots if the running game works.

If one of those connections looks like the scene that played out Thursday, Thomas will have his first touchdown and the Broncos will produce their first road win of the season.

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