When Gary Kubiak came to town everyone knew he was bringing his patented zone-blocking, balanced offensive attack with him. Since his arrival the team has been working feverously to transition the Broncos into a feared offense with multiple looks. One of the most important pieces to that offense, the tight ends, have looked solid up-and-down the roster at training camp thus far.

Owen Daniels and Virgil Green lead a group of big, physical players who are making plays in the run game as well as in pass plays at UCHealth Training Center day-in and day-out. However, as training camp progresses it will be highly entertaining to see how the team cuts down the roster and how many of the bruising versatile tight ends make the team come September.

“He puts a lot on us. We’re involved a lot in everything that we do, whether it’s run the ball or in the pass game. I think that he sees mismatches there that we can create,” Daniels said of Kubiak’s style of offense from camp August 1. “ There are a lot of two tight end stuff where we can have two athletic guys on the field that can stretch the field and catch the ball or the defense is going to have to make a personnel decision on what they want to do.”

Daniels has been prevalent in the first-team offense in the first week of camp. He appears to be the biggest threat in the passing attack but also has shown he can block from the end of the line. He has become an outspoken leader in the group due to his years in the league and in Kubiak’s offense in Houston. James Casey, after a few years in Philadelphia as a tight end and full back, has helped with the offensive transition as well. He played for Kubiak in Houston from 2009-12.

“They do a great job as being those vet guys who help us with the verbiage, help us with technique,” Green said of Daniels and Casey on Thursday. “The way we do things technically now is different than what we have done in the past so having those older guys, those guys who have done it and become Pro-Bowlers off this system, is great for us young guys.”

Green received a large contract for a mostly blocking tight end in the offseason. He is entering his fifth season at a $2.8 million average seasonal price tag for the next three years. He has been working at his craft in the offseason and is looking for a bigger role on the team. He only has 29 career receptions, something he sees changing this year.

“Just in the last six days, I’ve caught more passes in training camp than I caught in the last two or three years here,” Green exclaimed. “I feel quicker, faster and have more stamina and just having the run game compliment the pass game for a guy like myself is so beneficial to me.”

Casey and recently discovered Joe Don Duncan are look to fill the other role that has become a staple in Kubiak’s offenses. A fullback that also has the potential to play tight end as well as contribute heavily on special teams will make the 53-man roster. Both players have been in heavy rotation at camp. Casey immediately thought of the Broncos when he was released by the Eagles last year. He believes his experience in the league makes him a great fit in Denver.

“Early on in my career I came out as more of a receiver out of college so I kind of had to work my way into tight end and had to learn fullback. You’re always learning stuff. Now I feel real confident, I’ve played long enough, I’ve experienced almost everything you can see football-wise,” Casey said in press conference shortly after his arrival to the team in May. “I think I’m best suited now for the physical part of the game.”

He hasn’t disappointed and has entered camp at a hefty 240 pounds. Despite all of the tight ends excellent physical shape at camp the biggest skill position player is by far the newcomer.

Duncan showed up to camp at 270 pounds and it shows. During Monday’s fully padded practice Duncan casually lowered his shoulder near the sideline and ran over a young cornerback. He has been featured in the backfield, as well as the end of the line. He also has been placed on every special team’s unit with either the first or second team.

“It’s going great. The veteran guys are doing a great job of helping me adjust,” Duncan said. “Owen and James are doing a great job of helping me out with the ins and outs. I’m just trying to stay consistent, not take any steps back. I’m trying to keep my pad level down, running my feet and running through guys.”

He has displayed a versatile skill set, from catches balls in a variety of routes and being able to block and tackle on special teams. He has had a great camp so far but only so many roster spots are available.

Last season the Broncos kept only three tight ends and zero fullbacks. This season there will surely be changes in the position numbers on the roster. A likely area on offense to slim down is running back. Last year the team kept four players in the backfield. This season Juwan Thompson or Ronnie Hillman may lose their spot on the team. Other area they could lose a player is wide receiver. The team kept six in 2014.

With the importance of the tight end position in this system, it appears that the team will have to find room for all four of these players. With that said, another position will become thin as a result. Daniels, Casey, Green and Duncan appear to posses exactly what this team has continued to preach all offseason. They are versatile, tough players who will to do the dirty work for the good of the team. Look for all three bruisers to be flying around well after training camp closes.


Several Broncos sat out practice Thursday due to various injuries. Marvin Austin Jr. (groin), Larentee McCray (groin), Michael Schofield (back), Danny Trevathan (illness), and two others did not participate in practice. Steven Johnson, Derek Wolfe and Emmanuel Sanders left practice early with injuries. Sanders tweaked his right hamstring on a deep pass play and the severity is still unknown. Wolfe was being evaluated for a concussion which is a major concern due to his history of similar injuries.

Before Sanders left practice, he was once again screaming down the field and blowing past defenders. Manning looked sharp as well and both kickers hit field goals of 50-plus yards. Britton Colquitt also had some booming punts as the special team unit practiced punt team.

Defensively, Von Miller was again nearly unblockable on passing downs and DeMarcus Ware gave Ty Sambrailo fits after the rookie had a quite successful day in pass protection Tuesday.

In a surprise move, Matt Paradis and Max Garcia jumped into starting roles at center and left guard, respectively. The move was notably due to Ben Garland and Gino Gradkowski running with the first-team the first five days of camp. Kubiak had a simple answer when questioned about it after practice.

“You saw those guys bump up. You’re going to see that occasionally. Those two guys have been playing well. They deserve to work with the ones and we’re going to get it all evaluated. It’s part of the plan.”

Both Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall saw increased reps at practice after being eased into camp the first five days. Marshall finally saw some snaps in the full team drills. However, Kubiak is still being cautious with both of his inside linebackers.

“I think that they need to play. Are they going to play next week? If I was answering that today, I would probably be leaning to ‘no.’ We have felt like they’re about the same. As we have worked, it looks like Brandon is a little bit ahead. So now they’re a little bit on different programs as to where they were on the same program a week ago.”

Earlier in the day the Broncos announced an expected move. On Thursday the team signed nose tackle Sione Fua and waived punter Karl Schmitz. The move came after Colquitt took a big pay cut and Schmitz failed to push for the starting job the first five practices.

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