CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) – The greens and not the greenbacks are what held John Elway’s attention on the eve of training camp.
The Denver Broncos boss spent his last hours of summer vacation playing a nine-hole exhibition Tuesday at Cherry Hills Country Club, site of this year’s BMW Championship, in a friendly foursome that included defending champion Zach Johnson.
Before teeing off, Elway told The Associated Press he hopes to get a long-term deal done with star receiver Demaryius Thomas within the next two weeks.
Elway would have preferred to reach agreement with Thomas before the Broncos report for training camp Wednesday, but he said the sides have exchanged proposals and “we’re a ways apart right now.”
Elway added that he doesn’t want talks to drag beyond the start of the preseason Aug. 7, when Denver hosts Seattle.
“Well, we’ll probably take it a week or two at the most into camp. Once we get into two weeks I don’t want to go past that because that’s when we start focusing on the season,” Elway said. “So, hopefully we’ll try to get something done here in the next couple of weeks.”
Thomas was the lone bright spot for Denver in its blistering loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl, catching a record 13 passes (for 118 yards), including Peyton Manning’s 100th TD toss with the Broncos. He caught 92 passes for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, then added 26 receptions for 306 yards and three TDs in the playoffs.
The Broncos also want to sign Julius Thomas to a long-term deal following his breakout season, but Elway sounded less optimistic about reaching a deal with his big tight end, saying, “We’ve got an offer out to Julius that we haven’t heard anything back on.”
Both players are entering the final year of their contracts and signing them now would cap a very productive offseason for Elway, who landed DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib in free agency.
In the exhibition benefiting the Evans Scholars Foundation, Elway, a scratch golfer, teamed with Charlie Rymer of the Golf Channel to beat Johnson and John Lynch in a skins game in which they hit alternate shots.
Elway said he felt fortunate to play alongside Johnson, an 11-time Tour winner who was getting his first taste of the venerable golf course best known as the site of Arnold Palmer’s comeback from a seven-shot deficit in the final round to win the 1960 U.S. Open.
“I’ve played with Tiger, I’ve played with quite a few of these guys,” Elway said. “They’re all tremendous golfers. I’m a lover of golf, so it’s always fun to be able to watch them play.”
Speaking of Woods, Johnson was asked during a news conference if he would use a captain’s pick on Tiger if he were Ryder Cup captain.
“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I mean, as a competitor, I want him on the team. He’s the best player I’ve ever played with. … There are some guys that ooh and ah me, but he’s the one that’s done the most. His game never ceases to amaze me. I want Tiger healthy, bottom line, I want the man healthy. He’s great for the game – when he’s healthy, when he’s playing. So, hopefully that’s now.”
Johnson said he wouldn’t be surprised if Woods, who’s been bothered by a bad back much of the year, made the team on his own accord. However, he’d have to finish at least third at the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship to do so.
The BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup playoff competitions, takes place Sept. 1-7.
“Selfishly, the only negative is it interferes with my football watching,” Johnson cracked.
A winner should be crowned that Sunday in time for everyone to watch the Broncos open the season against Indianapolis that night, however.
Elway, who played a major role in bringing the BMW Championship to Denver as president of Cherry Hills in 2011, said he hopes the course becomes a regular stop in the rotation. Colorado has been without an annual PGA event since The International ended its run in 2006.
Notes: The Broncos released nine-year veteran TE Joel Dreessen (knee), who failed his physical Tuesday. “We’re going to miss Joel,” Elway said. “He was a big part of the turnaround when he came up from Houston three years ago. I feel bad for Joel, but he couldn’t do it physically anymore.” … The Broncos also designed S Eric Hagg as reserve/retired. The third-year player, who was signed Dec. 31, appeared in 22 career games during his first two NFL seasons with Cleveland.
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