Let me first start off by saying that I was severely disappointed when I heard new of Thomas' injury. I loved the pick - despite wanting more defensive selections - and the value was pretty darn good for D. Thomas given his size, speed, and athleticism (route-running and separation skills can be learned, and experience does wonders for this). He was electrifying to watch in Training Camp (when he finally recovered from his injury, only to injure the other foot during the Invesco Field practice (which he also made some highlight-worthy catches in). When he recovered from that I was desperate to see him take the field (even with how well our other receivers were already performing). So this new (and rather significant) injury just killed my day yesterday... but...
There are many silver linings to this injury that I think are worth mentioning:
We all know Fox prefers a strong running attack, and if we can sign some solid FAs at RB and TE to supplement our already dangerous Moreno, then we will probably be seeing a lot more heavy packages and fewer WRs on the field (although I'd still have preferred a big guy like D.T. out there blocking DBs than a guy of say Royal, Gaffney, Lloyd, or Willis's stature).
2) Thomas' youth, draft position, and other general circumstances
The combination of these factors will give D.T. the best chances of recovering. The Broncos have invested substantial money in him, and he is at the beginning of his contract. It would have been nice to see him crushing rivals hearts early, but hopefully he'll be worth the wait.
3) Our other WR's
Yes, I understand that Royal is also recovering from surgery as well... but I still feel pretty confident in our WR corps. Lloyd has proven he can be a big-play guy that can also be clutch when the game (or pride at the end of the season) is on the line. Royal seemed to be returning to his 2008 form, and his surgery (although a temporary setback) should help him get back to his peak ability by 2012 (which just might be the soonest Broncos football we all may see). I was expecting to see Gaffney get traded - but with the pending CBA and our current WR injuries - I'm now expecting to see him in Denver for at least one more season of Broncos football. Eric Decker also shows a lot of promise, and can be the big-blocking WR we need out there in run packages - with D.T. hurt he will likely get the chance to really prove himself under fire.
4) Matthew Willis
This guy gets his own bullet point because he just looked so amazing in preseason last year. His rapport and chemistry with Tebow was sizzling and I think he is Denver's answer at the slot positions. Eddie did excellent in the slot, but he was also very effective on the outside at #2 back in 2008 (granted that was a different offense, but still the guy has got some good straight-line speed and his pristine route running will garner the kind of separation needed down field). Matthew Willis should get ample opportunities to play with D.T. and Royal down early in the season. 4 WR sets will all but require him on the field.
My biggest concern with D.T. isn't necessarily him recovering from this injury physically - but mentally. His legs constantly seem to be working against him more often than they are working for him. I am sure he knows (and has) realized that this is as much a psychological battle as it is a physical one - and he's already proven he can overcome a serious foot injury once. I just hope that the proximity of location and timing with these injuries won't defeat him mentally. An Achilles rupture (partial or full) takes serious mental willpower to overcome - because that tendon is where a player gets all his power and explosiveness. Power and explosiveness are things that a player build by willpower in the training room - pushing themselves to the limit and getting stronger and faster. If D.T. builds a mental barricade (unintentionally of course) with these injuries than although he may return to being the player he once was - he will never become the player he (and we all) knows he could be, because he won't be able to push himself above and beyond to get there... which is exactly what that takes.