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Heuerman, an unknown in year two, is ready to prove his worth

Sam Cowhick Avatar
May 16, 2016


The tight end is a staple in all of Gary Kubiak’s offenses and now that he has had a year to convert his roster, one, two and sometimes three of them will be on the field at once. One tight end, in particular, will be highly anticipated and yet what he will provide is still an unknown.

Jeff Heuerman was drafted 92nd overall in 2015, onto the team that had signed several veteran tight ends already. The move was a bit of a head-scratcher but just days later, the fruits of that high pick would have to wait another year. In rookie minicamp, Heuerman tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was gone for the season.

“Its was pretty quick. I knew what happened the day of,” Heuerman recalled Monday. “I knew what I was facing. You hear about ACLs and I knew that when you look at the timing, I started adding up the months, I knew I was going to be out.”

The coaching staff, having thought enough of the young man to use a third-round pick on him, immediately sat him down and went over the plan for him. They wanted the rookie to stay as involved as the NFL would allow and make sure he got something out of the season, regardless of missing time on the field. Monday, Heuerman detailed what his rookie season turned into following the knee injury.

“I participated in all the meetings,” he said. “The NFL prohibited me from being out on the field, so I couldn’t be out there during practice. I would just workout while they were at practice and then go to meetings before and after practice. I traveled to all the games so I kind of got a feel for that and being at the different stadiums around the league. Then, working with Peyton [Manning] when he had his injury, picking up little things. Obviously, everything you can pick up from him is good.”

The Broncos drafting him early in the third round and their immediate measures following his injury show how high their hopes are for the former Ohio State Buckeye. However, purely on paper, his status as a talent remains mostly a mystery. He caught only 52 passes for 792 yards during his four seasons in Columbus, with career highs of 26 receptions for 466 receiving yards coming in his junior season. He started 37 of the team’s final 41 games while he was there. Yet, the Broncos’ coaches couldn’t help but rave about his potential and athleticism as soon as they drafted him, to the surprise of many.

Going into his second season and nearing 100-percent, Heuerman is ready to finally hit the field saying, “You have to go out there and perform, go out there and make the plays and that is what I am most excited for.”

Heuerman certainly would have preferred to learn on the fly like most rookies but tried to emphasize the positives of his rookie season Monday.

“I wouldn’t wish that injury upon anyone your first year but yeah, there is a lot to be said about it,” he explained. “You pick up a lot of things you’re not going to get otherwise. I learned a lot of things I wouldn’t know coming in as a rookie now. I kind of learned how the NFL works, the offenses work, just everything.”

As offseason workouts progress Heuerman and his potential and expectations will certainly grow. The expectations for all the tight ends will be high this year with the added responsibilities Kubiak’s offense will bring but the other tight ends have played on an NFL field. Barring another injury, Heuerman will finally get his chance to show everyone what he can really do and there will be plenty of people waiting to see exactly what that entails.

“I think that he has a high ceiling. He’s just scratching the surface of what he can do,” John Elway said May 1, 2015.

The Broncos and Heuerman, over a year later, are finally ready to see how high that ceiling truly is.



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