The Denver Broncos may have already clinched the AFC West division, but Thursday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders doesn’t look like it will come without cost. According to CBS Sports' Eye on the NFL Twitter feed, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has left the game and is questionable to return with a shoulder injury.
Demaryius Thomas questionable to return with a shoulder injury for Broncos.— Eye on Football (@EyeOnNFL) December 7, 2012
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10:11 p.m. by Tyler Conway
You can exhale now, Broncos fans. Thomas sat out the remainder of the first half, but returned when Denver took the field to start the third quarter, per NFL Network's Alex Flanagan:
Demaryius Thomas back on field.— Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) December 7, 2012
---End of Update---
With the Broncos ahead 13-0 early in the second quarter, Thomas went down with the shoulder injury and was checked out by the training staff. He was then taken to the locker room and did not return on Denver's next offensive series.
If his game ends with the injury, Thomas will finish Thursday’s contest with just two receptions for 31 yards—his lowest totals since Week 6 against the Chargers. As Peyton Manning's favorite target in the offense, the third-year wideout has 71 catches for 1,145 yards on the season, both of which are career highs.
An injury that keeps Thomas out of the lineup could be devastating for the playoff-bound Broncos. At 9-3 coming into Thursday’s game, Denver is in a heated battle with the Patriots for the No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the playoffs. An extended injury could put clinching that critical spot very much in jeopardy.
Matt Willis and Andre Caldwell, both unproven commodities, are next on the depth chart, so it will be interesting whether either player can step in and adequately fill Thomas’ shoes. If not, it may be adjustment time for a Broncos offense that was firing on all cylinders coming into Week 14.
Keep checking back in as we give you the latest updates on the Broncos star's shoulder.