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Julius Thomas injury: Broncos tight end 'encouraged': Horse Tracks

Julius Thomas says this ankle injury is nothing like the ailment that caused him to miss the 2012 season; C.J. Anderson, Orlando Franklin, and Chris Harris Jr. get some major PFF love; more Broncos news and notes from Week 13 heading into Week 14 in your Tuesday Horse Tracks.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos settled for five field goals against the Kansas City Chiefs, and I couldn't help but think, "Man, the Broncos sure could use Julius Thomas right about now." That help might be coming soon.

According to ESPN's Jeff Legwold, Thomas is eager to get back on the field, assuring everyone that it's nothing like his last ankle injury, and envisioning a quick return to the field.

"I’m encouraged with how it’s going, we’ll see how it’s going this week," Thomas said. "I hate having to watch our team go out there and play without me … Got to be cautious, go to make sure everything happens in the right time and come back when I’m fully ready to go."

The Broncos were able to survive Thomas' absence (and Peyton Manning's relative struggles) with some critical play across several positions, none bigger than C.J. Anderson's 168 rushing yards. Anderson is playing out of his mind right now, forcing a league-high 13 missed tackles Sunday, a point that Bleacher Report's Cecil Lammey hammered home with this enlightening stat:

The NFL average for yards after contact per rush is 1.82 yards. Against the Chiefs, Anderson averaged a whopping 2.81 yards after contact per rush. He simply wouldn't be denied against the Chiefs.

Mr. Anderson...

C.J. Anderson is the one

Granted, the offensive line played a big part in Anderson's 5.7-yard average - "nobody at guard showed the dominance to match (Orlando) Franklin this week," writes PFF - while cornerback Chris Harris Jr. continued his best-in-the-NFL coverage streak.

The combined efforts of the offensive line, the ground game, a fierce pass rushGrantland's Robert Mays notes that Alex Smith was hit on a whopping 41 percent of his dropbacks -  and dominant pass coverage all helped the Broncos blow out the Kansas City Chiefs despite Manning not having his best game.

Should Manning and the Broncos adjust to this newfound ground game? A Broncos legend says yes (although, note, this is not a verified account).

It's an exciting time for Broncos fans. Our team is playing the type of football that wins playoff games, that wins Super Bowls. And if John Fox and company continue to adjust to this newfound strength, the Mile High sky's the limit.

Mr. Anderson GIF, Mecklenburg comment on Facebook via reddit.