Going into the 2016 season, the tight end position very well may be the most wide open position battle on the Denver Broncos roster. The Broncos have three different players that have a legitimate shot at being the starter: Garrett Graham, Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman.

Even though the competition will be fierce in training camp and preseason, this group seems to not only have a healthy respect for each other, but are truly willing to do whatever is best for the team. Both veterans in this group spoke to this on Monday during offseason workouts.

“I do think having [TE] Garrett [Graham] and [TE] Jeff [Heuerman] — we have some good guys at tight end that want to do great things and want to be team guys,” said Green. “This offense you have to be a team guy … when your number is called, be ready to roll.”

It is clear that the veterans don’t just believe they have a lot of talent in the tight end position, but a strong support system as well.

“Definitely a great tight end group we’ve got here,” said Graham. “I’ve been off to a good start, and these guys have been helping me out.”

Green, the longest-tenured tight end on the Broncos, is entering his sixth season with 22 career starts. Before last season, he was signed to a three-year extension with the team due to his above-average blocking ability, and with the hopes that he could develop into the type of passing threat he was in his college days at Nevada.

Although last year Green saw his best passing statistics of his career, his run blocking fell off, and he was the backup behind Owen Daniels for most of the year. However, this coming year will be a completely different offense from last year, and Green thinks that’ll have a significant impact on the tight ends.

“I think the tight ends will see the ball more,” said Green. “Watching Garrett [Graham], I haven’t seen him drop a ball yet. Jeff [Heuerman] is a guy that looks to do great things in the passing game as well. I think the tight ends will have a great opportunity to get the ball.”

Green had additional praise for second-year pro Heuerman.

“He’s out there running hard. He has nice routes, he’s catching the ball well,” said Green. “So I like the way he looks.”

Graham, entering his first year with the Broncos and his seventh year in the NFL, echoed his praise for Heuerman as well.

“He looks good. He’s running [well], catching balls and [is] a strong guy in the weight room,” said Graham. “A nice guy and I’ve enjoyed playing with him so far.”

While simple praise like this may seem like something every veteran would say about a younger player, it is not necessarily common place for this to happen with players at the same position. Former Bronco great Alfred Williams often admits on his radio show, The Drive, that he would not help a younger player at his position because they were a threat to take his job.

Even though Green thinks he can be a starter this year, he knows that it will take the entire group to succeed.

“We just have to depend on each other,” said Green. “This is a team sport … It’s about everybody putting in the effort to complete one common goal.”

Graham explained this extra effort that the tight ends have been putting in.

“They’re in the weight room and they’re there early. They’re going over their stuff. They’re getting extra passes on the field. They’re watching film when they’re supposed to. They’re doing all of the right things and being pros,” said Graham.

Now, this doesn’t mean that each player will bow down to the others. In fact, each player wants to be the guy.

“Every year I come in thinking I can be the guy,” said Green. “I always feel like I can do things in the pass game. My specialty is being a physical guy up front in the run game and the pass protection game. I always come in thinking that I can be the guy in the pass game.”

When asked if he thought this year he has an even better chance to be the guy, Green had no doubt.

“I do feel that way. With O.D. [TE Owen Daniels] being gone, like you said, there is a better chance. I really want to in training camp really show that I can be not just be the pass guy, but just the every-down tight end guy,” said Green.

While the veterans, Green and Graham, will have to beat each other out, their biggest competition very well could be second-year pro Heuerman. Last year during rookie minicamp, Heuerman, a third round pick, tore his ACL and was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve before the season ever started. Even though he never saw action during his rookie year, he thinks he is ready to make a significant contribution after learning all of last year.

“I did so much watching last year … I’m just excited to be back out there,” said Heuerman.

He explained how he knows that watching can go only so far, and this year he needs to prove it on the field in order to have a shot.

“There is a lot of talk, but you’ve got to go out there and do it,” said Heuerman. “You’ve got to go out there and make the plays. That’s what I’m looking forward to and most excited for.”

While the Broncos certainly hope that Heuerman is their tight end of the future, the Broncos have solid veteran options ready if he is not able to make the jump from a missed rookie season to a starter yet. Even though all three will likely contribute this year, the starter could most likely be determined by who goes out and makes the most plays, like Heuerman said.

As of offseason workouts in May, the Broncos tight ends not only have a lot respect for one another, but they truly have a team-first mentality. Once training camp rolls around, the competition will no doubt be fierce, but it seems like all they care about is winning that game in February.