Ravens: 5 things to watch for against Broncos

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#4:  How will the Broncos replace Julius Thomas’s production in the offense?

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Going into opening day of 2013, almost no one had heard of tight end Julius Thomas. It was expected that TEs Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen would continue to be the go-to guys in the middle for quarterback Peyton Manning.

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However, by the end of opening day, the world knew that a new weapon had been born. Thomas torched the Ravens in that opening day, catching multiple touchdowns and leaving a huge mark on the defense. Thomas was a pro bowler that year, and he became a major red zone threat for the team.

He missed a bit of time last season, and when he was out, the Broncos were clearly hurting. Now that Thomas is gone, the Broncos do not have that big, reliable target to throw to by the goal line. Thomas has caught 24 touchdowns in the past two seasons, and he will be counted on this year, but by a different team (Jacksonville Jaguars).

The question going into opening day is: who will be the main red zone target for Manning now that Thomas is gone? The Broncos have a talented WR corps led by Pro Bowlers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and an up and coming TE in Virgil Green, but it remains to be seen who will step up and fill that void.

Next: What will Peyton Manning do?

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