FOXBORO, Mass. — Greg Orton might as well go by Demaryius this week.
The New England Patriots’ practice-squad wide receiver has bounced from team to team in his five NFL seasons. But he caught on with the Patriots on Dec. 31, 2013, and he has an important role this week: mimicking Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in preparation for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Orton spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons on the Broncos’ practice squad, so he knows Thomas’ game well. He also spent training camp in 2013 with the Broncos, meaning he could give New England some insight into Peyton Manning‘s complex offense.
Orton said he’s also been watching film of Thomas to try to mimic his moves since the Patriots found out they were going against the Broncos. Orton has been lining up across from Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib in practice while wearing Thomas’ No. 88.
“It’s great. He’s a great corner,” Orton said. “Just trying to get him a good look on what he’s going to see on Sunday. It’s been going great.”
Orton compares Talib to Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, whom the Patriots didn’t see during their Week 12 matchup in Denver.
“I think it’s pretty similar to when I was on Denver when I was going against Champ,” Orton said. “Tall, rangy corners who can run. It definitely helps me out. Hopefully it helps him out, too.”
Orton might not have Thomas’ speed or production, but his similar size (he’s 6-foot-3, 199 pounds) and familiarity with the Broncos wideout could go a long way in helping the Patriots win Sunday. Orton said he’s also spent some time as the Broncos’ No. 2 receiver, Eric Decker.