DENVER -- Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who wants the two-tight-end formation to be one of the staples in the team’s offense, had just two tight ends in uniform Thursday night.
Virgil Green and John Phillips were the only tight ends who were going to be available in the regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Jeff Heuerman, who has battled injuries throughout the offseason, was among the seven game-day inactives for the Broncos.
Heuerman did not practice Sunday or Monday because of an ankle injury, and worked on a limited basis Tuesday as well as during Wednesday’s walk-through. Heuerman had hamstring issues in training camp.
Despite the missed time, Kubiak said Tuesday the decision on Heuerman’s availability for the game would be based solely on his recovery. Kubiak said Heuerman had a good handle on the game plan.
“If he can play, if he’s 100 percent, he’s fine as far as his assignments and all of those things,’’ Kubiak said following Tuesday’s practice.
Also among the game-day inactives for the Broncos were wide receiver Bennie Fowler, quarterback Austin Davis (who was just signed Saturday), cornerback Lorenzo Doss, guard Connor McGovern, tackle/guard Ty Sambrailo and defensive tackle Kyle Peko.
Fowler suffered a fracture in his right elbow in the Broncos’ preseason opener in Chicago and has not yet returned to practice. He has expressed the hope since his injury that he would make it back to begin the regular season, and his absence means Cody Latimer will get significantly more work in the offense as well as Jordan Norwood.
And with Heuerman also unavailable, the Broncos could lean on their two-back look more as well as their three-wide-receiver formation.