Sixth-year tight end Virgil Green, who caught 12 passes for 173 yards in 2015, is making a strong case that 2016 may be his breakout season for the Broncos. Saturday night’s opening drive was a prime example of Green’s potential in the Broncos’ passing game.
On consecutive plays on that first drive, Green caught short passes from Siemian and stretched the catches into double-digit gains. He pushed the Broncos forward 28 yards with those two catches as Denver went from its own 25-yard line to the Niners’ 47-yard line.
“It was a play-action the first play,” Green said. “Wide-open [and] Trevor [Siemian] threw me a nice ball. Caught it, tried to do what I could after the catch. Then, the screen, they rushed a guy, dropped a lot of guys. There was one guy sitting on the sideline. [I] ran past him.”
Jeff Heuerman missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury and is having “a hard time staying healthy,” Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. Green has been consistently available since recovering from a finger injury that kept him out of OTAs in the spring, the story all said. We've had other reports about the team re-introducing the TE into the offense, so things could be shaping up for a Green breakout. He's an interesting TE2 draft option who has the chance to climb out charts. But keep in mind his QB situation remains a big question mark and could cap his fantasy potential.
Broncos TE Virgil Green caught three passes during the Broncos’ first possession, a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. He caught passes on the left side, the right side and over the middle.
Even with only one series of playing time, Green had his best game as a receiver since November. Against the Green Bay Packers in Denver last season, Green caught three passes for 61 yards. Not coincidentally, that was Peyton Manning’s best passing game of the season. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 340 yards. The Broncos won easily.
Tight ends do matter.
“I know the offense,” Green said. “I knew it last year, but after playing in the system for a full year, I understand how to get open and what to look for. It does feel a little different in that aspect. I really know what’s going on everywhere. I know what all the receivers are doing. I know what the O-line is doing. I know everything that’s going on.”
Consider Green a sleeper TE2. He has terrific athletic ability and finally has an opportunity to start in his 5th season.
Thursday was one of those days when Broncos TE Virgil Green showed every bit of the potential he has tried to showcase along the way. He had four touchdown receptions in the morning practice, including a leaping grab that concluded with a rough landing and a brief chat with Broncos trainers.
“Virgil is the red-hot player of the day here in Dove Valley," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said afterward. “What a day he had. He made a bunch of plays in the red zone."
The story went on to say Green missed much of the offseason program after multiple finger surgeries, and because Jeff Heuerman missed his rookie season in 2015 with a torn ACL, the Broncos opened camp with plenty of uncertainty at the position. The other three tight ends in camp -- Garrett Graham, Henry Krieger-Coble and John Phillips -- are all in their first seasons with the team, so Green is the only player the Broncos have at the position who has played in a regular-season game for them. We had an a news story in the recent past that said the Broncos want to bring more offense to the TE position. Green is ranked 31st among our TEs, but highest among all Broncos at the position, so he can be had late in drafts.
The tight ends have returned to Denver — even if they never left.
“Peyton always knew where he wanted to go, based on coverage,” said Virgil Green, a sixth-year tight end who became so dispensable last season, the Broncos made him a fullback. “This a tight end-friendly offense,” Green said Thursday at Dove Valley. “This year, the quarterbacks we have, they’re expected to read coverage more and go to the open guy. I think tight ends should be a little more successful than years past.”
If that's the case, you might find some late-round gold at the position in Denver. Virgil Green is ranked just 32nd on our TE list and only getting late round attention. Garrett Graham is next up on the depth chart. While there are plenty of more proven options out there right now, this is certainly something to keep an eye on if you're looking for value, especially in deeper leagues.
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