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Virgil Green hopes -- again -- to be a part of Broncos' passing game

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- If pro football had an optimists' club, there is no question Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green would not only be in it, he might be running the show.

Because since Green flashed double-take-worthy athleticism in the weeks before the 2011 draft -- posting a 42½-inch vertical jump while weighing in at 249 pounds, for example -- he opened each of his five previous NFL seasons with the hope the Broncos might throw him the ball more.

And every season, something has come up. He’s had an injury; the offense was wide receiver-driven; he ended up in a rotation in which he just happened to be the best blocker, so he had things to do other than catch the ball.

The result? Green has 35 total catches in 72 -- count 'em -- career games, yet he is again optimistic, for the sixth consecutive year, he can have impact as a receiver in Denver's offense.

“I live in the moment. I don’t dwell on the past too much," the 28-year-old said. "I have always known that I have abilities like this, but it’s all about living in the moment and taking advantage of your opportunities when they come past you.”

Thursday was one of those days when 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."

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.

Heuerman and Green have gotten plenty of work with the starters thus far as the Broncos figure to use two-tight end sets more than they did last season. And Heuerman was selected in the third round of the 2015 draft to be a dual-threat tight end, with Denver coaches having talked plenty since that draft about how much they aim to have him in the lineup.

For his part, Green battles on, with his hopes up that the offseason surgeries will finally solve his health issues. Kubiak said after practice the Broncos have tried to regulate Green’s playing time in camp to ensure he’s ready for the regular season.

“We have a little bit of a program we are working on with Virgil," Kubiak said. “We are trying to keep him healthier than we have in the past. I think he’s responded. I think Jeff [Heuerman] is doing a good job. A couple young players there are coming in. We just have to keep going. It’s a competitive position that was just a little bit behind when we came to camp."

Thursday’s performance could get the team’s coaching staff talking, again, about what Green could be. He’s had such moments before, but then gone on to four seasons of fewer than 10 receptions each to go with his 12 in 2015.

So another August has come, and Green’s hopes still spring eternal in the summer sun.

“Every day you have to go out there and be consistent," Green said. “That’s my biggest thing. I can make plays. I can do all the other things. I just have to be consistent and show them that I can do those things every single day."