Demaryius Thomas closing in on full participation in practice

Demaryius Thomas is close to full participation in training camp practices and could be ready to play in Friday's preseason opener. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who skipped the Denver Broncos' offseason program as his representatives and the team tried to work out a long-term deal, is close to full participation in training camp practices. Coach Gary Kubiak said Sunday Thomas could play in the preseason opener Friday if the Broncos wanted to.

That does not, however, mean the Broncos want to. The Broncos open the preseason Friday night in Seattle.

“I think he could [play]," Kubiak said. "We’ll make that decision probably Wednesday or Thursday. I think he very well could from what I have seen him do the last couple days, but if we’re going to err on that decision, it’s probably going to be on the other side."

Thomas was initially held out of team drills when training camp opened and the Broncos have gradually worked him into things more and more with each passing practice. This past week, Thomas has played in more and more of the team’s 11-on-11 work, including Sunday’s practice.

Thomas did collide with the goal-post Sunday, making a scoring catch in red-zone work, but Kubiak didn’t initially believe the injury was too serious.

With three consecutive 92-catch, 1,400-yard seasons, Thomas is the unquestioned top receiver for the Broncos and his presence in the offense immediately cranks up the degree of difficulty for an opposing defense. But Kubiak has said the Broncos wanted to make sure Thomas’ conditioning was squared away after spending much of his offseason working out on his own in Atlanta.

“The biggest thing for me was just kind of getting used to getting jammed, working against the DBs, getting used the pads again," Thomas said. “I hadn’t done all that stuff since we played the Colts [in January]. I feel like I’m getting there."

Kubiak said Sunday all starters may not be created equally when the team makes the call on playing time in Friday night’s game, as well as the other preseason games. Some younger players, like running back C.J. Anderson or some in what figures to be a youthful offensive line, will play more than quarterback Peyton Manning and Thomas.

With wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders having missed some practice time of late with a hamstring injury, Kubiak did say he wants the offense to get at least some work in the preseason with Manning, Thomas and Sanders in the lineup. But that’s more likely in the second and third preseason games, than Friday night.