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Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos signals a first down in the third quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Clough: DT could again be top-end WR for Broncos with good QB play

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos signals a first down in the third quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

For the first time since becoming a full-time starter with the Denver Broncos, Demaryius Thomas failed to log a 1,000-yard season in 2017, falling just 51 yards short.

This past season for Thomas — who saw his streak of five consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving snapped — ended up as his worst season statistically since before the Peyton Manning era started in 2012.

It’s a drop off in production for DT that’s irked some Broncos fans, but Sandy Clough on Friday said the idea of a rebound season for the five-time Pro Bowler could be more than just “wishful thinking.”

“I understand that the names, and the reputation attached to those names, may be greater than the level of production that you can expect from Thomas and Sanders,” Clough said, “but what you hear inside the Broncos organization is that, wishful thinking or not, Demaryius Thomas will be, again, a 100-catch wide receiver with better-than-average, upper-third-caliber of quarterbacking.

“That Thomas will, again, be a 1,000-yard receiver and again be a receiver catching maybe as many as 100 passes.”

Last season, Broncos quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch combined for a team quarterback rating of 73.0, ahead of only the Cleveland Browns (61.4).

The previous season, Denver’s first without Manning, the club finished 21st in the NFL in quarterback rating, compared to the four seasons in which the future Hall of Fame quarterback put up ratings of 105.3 (2012), 114.4 (2013), 101.3 (2014), and 76.3 (2015, combined with Osweiler).

Coinciding with those seasons, Thomas finished in the NFL’s top-10 in receptions and yards while also ranking among the top 10 in touchdowns in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

And despite a downturn in production in 2017, Thomas could see a return to 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons with the addition of a top-end quarterback like Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum, Clough said.

“Pritchard and Cecil” co-host Mike Pritchard agrees, championing a similar argument last week.

“DT, even though he’s lost a step, still highly capable of being a top-10, top-5, No. 1 (second receiver) in the National Football League,” Prichard said.

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.

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