Demaryius Thomas became must-see TV by gluing his eyes to the TV. His size needs no embellishment — 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds as of Thursday — but high-profile big receivers litter the NFL's landfill.

Stardom for Thomas hinged on practice. When he was playing for Georgia Tech, the team passed kidney stones easier than it passed the ball downfield. In a sport of sudden improvisations and breathtaking athleticism, Thomas needed precision.

He needed to learn to run routes.

"I watched video of Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall, big guys who do it well," Thomas said Thursday at Broncos headquarters of his viewing sessions with former position coach and current offensive coordinator Adam Gase. "I wanted to try to be better than them. I love the physical part of the game. But I wanted to be a receiver, not just a big guy playing receiver."

Gase worked tirelessly with Thomas, going through patterns after practice. He said Thursday that Thomas reveled in it. Thomas' evolution can be found in statistics. He caught 54 passes, including six for touchdowns, in his first two NFL seasons. He hauled in 186 receptions, including 24 for touchdowns, the past two years.

This coming season, Emmanuel Sanders will flank him in the slot — "Sanders is too fast. He's quick and fast at the same time," Thomas said — and the Broncos high-powered offense will have a dash of nitromethane at its disposal, potentially creating more opportunities for Thomas.

"Our thing is that we try to stay with what we do. You don't want to get too far out of the box," Gase said before adding, "but at the same time, you try to experiment a little bit."

It's tempting for the Broncos to use Thomas even more. Lost in the carnage of the Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks, Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 catches.

"It was tough. I didn't even know about the record until later that night," he said. "My main focus was on the game, because we went out and we didn't show up at all. Hopefully we can put ourselves in the same situation and play better."

Thomas' performance in Super Bowl XLVIII created appreciation and pause. He suffered an injury to his left shoulder late in the game, but did not separate it.

"It was tough," he said Thursday. "I got knocked around. ... But I am fine. I am great. If I had to play (the next week), I could have."