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Broncos need to develop passing attack

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Posted Jan. 19, 2012 @ 7:43 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

In the divisional-round loss to New England, Broncos QB Tim Tebow completed just nine passes. Of those, six were hauled in by top WR Demaryius Thomas, two by WR Eddie Royal and one by slot receiver Matthew Willis; Denver's tight ends and running backs were a nonfactor in the passing game. As Tebow and the Broncos now enter the offseason, improving the team's receiving corps and overall aerial attack will be a top priority.

Tebow will be the top quarterback on the depth chart heading into training camp next season and will have the entire offseason to develop as a passer. Improving his accuracy on short throws in traffic will be a primary focus of his offseason program, as will working on passes from the pocket. The question is: Which receivers will he have to work with?

Thomas is surely the No. 1 target for Tebow next season after his breakthrough down the stretch of the 2011 season and playoffs. Both players were taken in the 2010 draft and have been working together for the past two years. That paid off in the team's final seven games — including playoffs — when Thomas had 35-745-4 and energized a passing game that had hit a lull in the middle of the season. With strong hands and a second burst of acceleration, he is exactly the kind of player the team needs to help Tebow develop. The same can be said for second WR Eric Decker, who was the QB's favorite target before Thomas emerged at the end of the year.

Royal is a free agent, and though there may be some interest from the team in bringing him back, we hear that feeling may not be mutual from the player. After hauling in 91 passes as a rookie in 2008, the receiver's production has decreased each season, bottoming out at just 19 catches this past season. Denver may offer him a bargain-basement deal, but a team insider believes Royal will move on, opting not to come back to the Broncos' run-first offense.

Another receiver will likely be brought in to fill out the roster, although a big-name, expensive player isn't expected. A cheap, veteran option — preferably somebody who can make plays over the middle — will be brought in to help Tebow. The team would also like more production from the TE spot to improve its passing game.

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