Tight end Joel Dreessen had a knee scope on Monday, which will keep him out for the rest of training camp. Jacob Tamme has been on the sidelines with a quad injury. Combined, those two guys had 93 receptions for 911 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2012.
With a couple of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets unable to participate at the moment, young tight ends Julius Thomas and Virgil Green are getting their feet real wet in this Broncos offense.
“You’ve seen Julius split out wide some; you’ve seen him make some good catches at the tight end,” Manning said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “Julius just hadn’t played a lot football in the past couple of years due to some injuries. So it’s a great situation for him. And Virgil is one of our strongest guys on the team, yet he’s made a lot of plays in the passing game. So it’s been a really good camp for both of those guys.”
Thomas is finally 100%. A bad ankle has caused his career to stall early on. He only has one catch in nine games in his first two years in the NFL.
“I put in a lot of work this offseason,” Thomas said. “I got back to where I feel comfortable, I feel that I can make an impact and just getting back to the athlete I was used to being. Catches like I had today definitely help build that confidence.”
On a fourth down simulation play during the two-minute drill, Thomas caught a pass after tipping it to himself. It was an impressive catch and kept the drive alive.
Green has been impressive in camp as well. It’s his time to shine. The 6’5,” 255-pound back out of Nevada has played in 27 games during his three-year career and has just 8 catches.
Green knows he has work ahead of him.
“Routes, be detailed at with my depth. With my hand placement, coming out of the breaks and in the run game just be more physical,” Green said of what he needs to improve upon.
Even with Dreessen and Tamme on the sidelines, the Broncos are keeping the tight end competition up and running. Tuesday they signed Deangelo Peterson, who spent his first season in the NFL on Washington’s practice squad.
John Fox has said that much of the evaluation of players will be done during the preseason games.
“This game is about what to do, how to do it and be able to execute that under pressure,” Fox said. “You have guys sometimes that flash really well in practice, but maybe not so well in games. The games are ultimately how we grade.”
Thomas and Green will both be ready for the biggest tests of their lives.