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Thomas a no-show at Broncos minicamp

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos minicamp began Tuesday with no sign of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas won’t be fined for missing the mandatory three days of work; he isn’t under contract, with his franchise tender still unsigned. But the Broncos have signed their last two franchise players to long-term deals, and coach Gary Kubiak expects that Thomas will become the third by the July 15 deadline.

“I’m very confident,” Kubiak said.” (General manager) John (Elway) and I talk about it all the time.”

In the meantime, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert is one of the primary points of contact to Thomas, passing along information about the tweaked offense. Quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders have also been in contact with Thomas.

“He’s been studying our stuff and he’s got all our cutups and all those types of things,” Kubiak said. “Peyton and he are visiting consistently. It’s just going to be important that when we do get to that point, it’s time to go, ‘OK, what’s our plan in place for him as we move forward?'”

When Thomas does arrive, he will have to play catch-up.

“It’s our job as coaches when he does come in, to find out exactly where he’s at, where we need to go, and make sure we have a plan to get there,” Kubiak said. “You can’t just (on) Day One, say, ‘Go.’ You’ve got to have a plan in place.”

— Defensive end Antonio Smith received an excused absence from minicamp as allegations of child abuse against him remain unresolved.

A complaint filed in Fort Bend (Texas) County last November accused Smith of abuse that was “sexual in nature.” The allegations have been under the purview of the District Attorney’s Office there for four months, but the Broncos said they did not become aware of them until May 20.

No charges have been field, but Smith has not taken part in an OTA session and will not until the matter is cleared, per team request.

“We’re going to continue with the same process,” Kubiak said. “I think this has been two weeks now, but we just have to keep our patience here and let him continue to go about it the way they’re going about it.

“Hopefully we get some answers and move on with football. We’ll just wait and see, but we’ll keep our patience. We understand.”

— Once again, Kubiak gave his younger players more repetitions Tuesday, sending veterans like Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Louis Vasquez, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Harris Jr. and others off to a conditioning-and-weights session while the rest of the Broncos went through team and seven-on-seven periods.

“I’m trying to stick to our plan,” Kubiak said. “As a coach, before you get to camp, you try to get everybody pretty close to exactly on the same page, or I should say, at the same level. So we’re continuing this process with these young players on our football team.”

It matters to players like linebacker Todd Davis, whose command of the defensive huddle has increased this offseason with Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall still working their way back from injuries.

“You’re used to seeing him in the huddle now, calling the plays, calling the defense and being confident. He’s gotten that confidence and that swagger that he needs to be that role player for us,” said defensive end DeMarcus Ware.

But no one has benefited more than backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, who is in the final year of his contract and needs all the repetitions he can get — both for his own experience and for the Broncos’ evaluation of him in determining whether he can be the replacement for Peyton Manning.

“I know it’s a big offseason for a lot of guys, but I think for him it’s been even a little bit bigger,” Kubiak said. “I think he’s getting better. There’s a ways to go. I know we can help him and I know I can help him as a coach.”

— With rookie Jeff Heuerman lost for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and James Casey seeing more time at fullback than tight end, it seems likely that either Dominique Jones or Marcel Jensen will find a spot on the 53-man roster unless the Broncos make another addition to the tight end pool this summer.

Jensen and Jones have both been active in the passing game, grabbing passes from backup quarterback Brock Osweiler each day during OTAs. Jensen arrived via waiver claim from the Jaguars; Jones was on the Broncos’ practice squad and 53-man roster last year as a blocking tight end, befitting his listed 270-pound frame.

But by the time Kubiak met Jones this offseason, he was up to 286 pounds.

“We had a little meeting,” Kubiak said, drawing laughter. “He’s now 265. I’m really proud of him, he’s worked hard and I think he’s got a good chance to be a fine football player if he keeps his weight down, and he’s done that. He’s responded.”


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