As foot heals, Demaryius Thomas hopes to climb NFL draft boards

PHOENIX — On the same day Dez Bryant performed at an exclusive workout for NFL coaches and scouts in Lufkin, Texas, one of his rivals for the distinction of being the first wide receiver picked in the 2010 draft ran pass routes for the first time in six weeks.

WR Demaryius Thomas showed first-round ability in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, totaling 1,154 receiving yards in 2009.
WR Demaryius Thomas showed first-round ability in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, totaling 1,154 receiving yards in 2009.

Ran would be an overstatement.

Demaryius Thomas jogged gingerly on the FieldTurf outside the Athletes Performance training center here Tuesday as he went through his route tree.

First, a slant. Then a hitch, followed by a quick out and a dig. A comeback, a post and a post-corner completed the repertoire. Thomas ran the routes several times from both sides of the field — visualizing catching the ball each time — under the watchful eyes of John Stemmerman, general manager and performance manager at AP.

"We have 16 days, basically," Stemmerman said. "I don’t want to fast-track you, but I want you to get as many reps as possible."

Thomas is on a mission. The former Georgia Tech wide receiver is preparing himself for a late pro day in Atlanta on Sunday, April 18, just four days before the draft.

"I’ll be the last man standing," he joked.

It’s remarkable that Thomas can jog, much less stand firmly on both feet. On Feb. 16, while training for the NFL Scouting Combine, he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot while running the 3-cone drill here.

Five days later, he underwent surgery.

Dr. Robert Anderson, an orthopedic surgeon for the Carolina Panthers, removed bone marrow from Thomas’ hip and injected it into the area of the fracture, which was repaired with a pin. A few days after that, Thomas flew to Indianapolis for the Combine, hobbling his way around on crutches.

Thomas graduated from a half cast to a walking boot March 4. The next day, he began intense physical therapy at AP. In the beginning, he used a bone stimulator, wore electrodes on his foot when he slept and received massage therapy. Gradually, he began upper-body weight lifting and non-weight bearing cardiovascular exercises on a treadmill and in a pool. The goal all along has been to help Thomas optimize the healing process, keep his calves, quads and glutes from atrophying and focus on proper form and mechanics in an attempt to prevent future injuries to his back or knees.

"This should be just a little hiccup, a speed bump, in his career," said Anna Hartman, an AP athletic trainer who has worked closely with Thomas during his rehab. "My goal is to make sure this is a hiccup for him and not something that creates (other) injuries for him down the road."

On Monday, Thomas did some rudimentary cutting on the field for the first time.

Stemmerman, who was working with him for the first day, looked at Hartman and asked which foot he had broken.

"Watching him, you can’t tell what foot he had surgery on," Hartman said.

After running routes Tuesday morning, Thomas did some resistance and acceleration exercises. The session concluded with Stemmerman, standing 10 yards away, throwing about 50 passes to Thomas, several of which purposely forced Thomas to lean or stretch. Once, he had to jump a foot off the ground to catch one of the throws. "My bad," Stemmerman said. "I didn’t mean for you to get up that high."

Before his injury, Thomas was rated as a first-round pick — remarkable considering Thomas played in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, where running plays were called about 80 percent of the time.

When the Yellow Jackets did throw, Thomas was the primary target. A vertical threat, he had 46 receptions for an ACC-leading 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He averaged a staggering 25.1 yards per catch.

NFL personnel men aren’t as concerned about Thomas’ foot injury — they know he’s well on the road to recovery — as they are his route-running skills. He ran mostly vertical routes in college.

"The bigger questions you have on him aren’t necessarily the physical ones," and AFC college scouting director said. "You don’t see him running a big route tree and that wasn’t a consistent passing offense, so you don’t see him run route after route after route.

"As a player, he’s a talented guy, no doubt. He’s big and he’s fast and he’s physical. I wouldn’t call him a refined route-runner, but not everyone is coming out."

As he lunched on a beef burrito here Tuesday, Thomas was asked where he thought he would be drafted.

"Looking at the mock drafts, it seems like no (wide receiver) is in the top five (picks)," he said. "I feel like I’m a top-10 athlete compared to everyone else. … Just watching the other (receivers) and seeing what they do, I feel like I block the best, I make more plays. I’m more explosive, bigger, maybe the fastest. I can’t say that yet; I haven’t run the 40."

That will come April 18. That’s when the last man standing hopes his eleventh-hour workout for scouts and personnel men will lead to some last-minute changes on NFL draft boards.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

PHOENIX — On the same day Dez Bryant performed at an exclusive workout for NFL coaches and scouts in Lufkin, Texas, one of his rivals for the distinction of being the first wide receiver picked in the 2010 draft ran pass routes for the first time in six weeks.

WR Demaryius Thomas showed first-round ability in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, totaling 1,154 receiving yards in 2009.
WR Demaryius Thomas showed first-round ability in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, totaling 1,154 receiving yards in 2009.

Ran would be an overstatement.

Demaryius Thomas jogged gingerly on the FieldTurf outside the Athletes Performance training center here Tuesday as he went through his route tree.

First, a slant. Then a hitch, followed by a quick out and a dig. A comeback, a post and a post-corner completed the repertoire. Thomas ran the routes several times from both sides of the field — visualizing catching the ball each time — under the watchful eyes of John Stemmerman, general manager and performance manager at AP.

"We have 16 days, basically," Stemmerman said. "I don’t want to fast-track you, but I want you to get as many reps as possible."

Thomas is on a mission. The former Georgia Tech wide receiver is preparing himself for a late pro day in Atlanta on Sunday, April 18, just four days before the draft.

"I’ll be the last man standing," he joked.

It’s remarkable that Thomas can jog, much less stand firmly on both feet. On Feb. 16, while training for the NFL Scouting Combine, he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot while running the 3-cone drill here.

Five days later, he underwent surgery.

Dr. Robert Anderson, an orthopedic surgeon for the Carolina Panthers, removed bone marrow from Thomas’ hip and injected it into the area of the fracture, which was repaired with a pin. A few days after that, Thomas flew to Indianapolis for the Combine, hobbling his way around on crutches.

Thomas graduated from a half cast to a walking boot March 4. The next day, he began intense physical therapy at AP. In the beginning, he used a bone stimulator, wore electrodes on his foot when he slept and received massage therapy. Gradually, he began upper-body weight lifting and non-weight bearing cardiovascular exercises on a treadmill and in a pool. The goal all along has been to help Thomas optimize the healing process, keep his calves, quads and glutes from atrophying and focus on proper form and mechanics in an attempt to prevent future injuries to his back or knees.

"This should be just a little hiccup, a speed bump, in his career," said Anna Hartman, an AP athletic trainer who has worked closely with Thomas during his rehab. "My goal is to make sure this is a hiccup for him and not something that creates (other) injuries for him down the road."

On Monday, Thomas did some rudimentary cutting on the field for the first time.

Stemmerman, who was working with him for the first day, looked at Hartman and asked which foot he had broken.

"Watching him, you can’t tell what foot he had surgery on," Hartman said.

After running routes Tuesday morning, Thomas did some resistance and acceleration exercises. The session concluded with Stemmerman, standing 10 yards away, throwing about 50 passes to Thomas, several of which purposely forced Thomas to lean or stretch. Once, he had to jump a foot off the ground to catch one of the throws. "My bad," Stemmerman said. "I didn’t mean for you to get up that high."

Before his injury, Thomas was rated as a first-round pick — remarkable considering Thomas played in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, where running plays were called about 80 percent of the time.

When the Yellow Jackets did throw, Thomas was the primary target. A vertical threat, he had 46 receptions for an ACC-leading 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He averaged a staggering 25.1 yards per catch.

NFL personnel men aren’t as concerned about Thomas’ foot injury — they know he’s well on the road to recovery — as they are his route-running skills. He ran mostly vertical routes in college.

"The bigger questions you have on him aren’t necessarily the physical ones," and AFC college scouting director said. "You don’t see him running a big route tree and that wasn’t a consistent passing offense, so you don’t see him run route after route after route.

"As a player, he’s a talented guy, no doubt. He’s big and he’s fast and he’s physical. I wouldn’t call him a refined route-runner, but not everyone is coming out."

As he lunched on a beef burrito here Tuesday, Thomas was asked where he thought he would be drafted.

"Looking at the mock drafts, it seems like no (wide receiver) is in the top five (picks)," he said. "I feel like I’m a top-10 athlete compared to everyone else. … Just watching the other (receivers) and seeing what they do, I feel like I block the best, I make more plays. I’m more explosive, bigger, maybe the fastest. I can’t say that yet; I haven’t run the 40."

That will come April 18. That’s when the last man standing hopes his eleventh-hour workout for scouts and personnel men will lead to some last-minute changes on NFL draft boards.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*