Despite a somewhat disappointing 2-4 record, the Denver Broncos are just one game out of first place in their division. The toughest part of the schedule is over, and the remainder of their games are considered winnable. But before anyone starts talking about playoffs, the team needs to see more from several key players, including rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos are trying to rush Thomas’ development given his unique combination of size (six feet, three inches tall and 229 pounds) and speed, writes The Denver Post. He’s suffered some injuries this year, most notably a concussion from a devastating hit he took returning a kick-off against the Baltimore Ravens a few weeks ago. Still, head coach Josh McDaniels says he may increase Thomas’ playing time to take advantage of his attributes and help chase the division title.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have had a busy week interacting with the NFL. Last weekend, three devastating helmet-to-helmet hits across the league led to $175,000 in fines, and the NFL now says it’s going to place a renewed emphasis on penalizing dangerous hits. McDaniels says some players may feel stricter emphasis on the rule will crimp their ability to play at full speed, but they’ll simply have to adapt, while defensive back Champ Baily thinks it could “take a little from the game” (via The Denver Post).

And yesterday, players across the league voted to give their union the ability to decertify in the hopes of preventing owners from locking them out if a new labor agreement isn’t reached for the 2011 season, reports The Associated Press. But a source tells USA Today that the vote is a “ploy” and that eventually the players will have to give in to team owners’ demands for better revenue-sharing.