Clady, Thomas appear in #NFLRank

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- ESPN used 85 voters from the network’s many NFL platforms as well as Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus to rank the league’s top 100 players on offense and top 100 players on defense.

Players ranked No. 40 to 31 are featured on Tuesday. And for the Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas checked in at No. 38 as an ascending player while left tackle Ryan Clady came in at No. 35.

Thomas, who had one career catch in his first two seasons with the Broncos because of first, an ankle injury and then eventually ankle surgery. Thomas had 65 receptions last season to go with 12 touchdowns in the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The Broncos see potential for more and are poised to pay for it as well as Thomas enters into the last year of his original contract. He has Peyton Manning’s trust and that always means the opportunities for catches and touchdowns will follow.

“I don’t want to have just one good year,’’ Thomas said. “I want to make a career.’’

For Clady’s part, he is still working his way back from foot surgery last season that kept him out of all but two games. Other than Manning, no player in the team’s offensive huddle has been to more than Clady’s three Pro Bowls.

Should Clady play as expected, and he hasn’t missed any practice time in the preseason, he is likely to add a fourth Pro Bowl to his resume.

“I don’t think I’m quite there, but I’m getting there, it’s close,’’ Clady said of his recovery. “It’s just something you have to work into. It’s the National Football League with the best athletes in the world. You can’t just jump in off an injury and expect to be great. It takes some work, and I still have a little bit of time. I think I’m definitely improving. It’s definitely feeling better. Soreness is at a minimum right now, so that’s a good thing.’’