ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown touchdown passes to 47 different players in his career, a list that spans Marvin Harrison (112 touchdowns from Manning) to Demaryius Thomas (33) to Broncos defensive tackle Mitch Unrein (one).
But Manning, who is always on the hunt for touchdowns, would like to add at least one more to the list. Sort of like a reward for a job well done, because Broncos tight end Virgil Green is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty for some of the heavy lifting on offense.
"I’m going to get him that first touchdown pass," Manning said. "I’m going to do it. We’re going to do it. It’s just a matter of time. So we’re on a mission there."
Green, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end, was in John Elway’s first draft class in 2011, after he returned to the team to be Pat Bowlen’s chief football decision-maker. Green had been one of the fastest (a 4.54-second clocking in the 40-yard dash) and athletic (42½-inch vertical jump) tight ends in the draft class.
With the Broncos, he also happens to be the guy asked to be the blocker at the position. He has played 51 career games for the Broncos, and has 19 catches with zero touchdowns.
Told this week of Manning’s vow to get him a scoring pass, Green took a more wait-and-see approach.
"I’m looking forward to it, but all I can do is just play and do what’s asked of me when they ask me to do it," Green said.
In Sunday’s win against the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos made a far more concerted effort to run the ball -- 35 rushing plays in the game to go with 35 pass attempts -- as they worked out of a two-tight-end set for 20 snaps in the game, including penalty plays, and were able to do it because Green was back in the lineup after missing three games with a calf injury. The Broncos finished with 201 yards rushing, including 167 from C.J. Anderson.
"Virgil played really well on Sunday," Manning said. "It was really good to get him back. He’s one of our tough guys on this team, and it was killing him not to play due to his injury. ... It allows us to do more things from a personnel standpoint and formations. ... He is a physical player, and I thought his presence was felt on Sunday having him back out there."
"A guy like me, I like to work," Green said. "I don’t like to be sitting out. I don’t like to just watch other guys. I like to work. So just sitting out, it hit me pretty hard. But at the same time, you realize how much you love this game and how much you appreciate all the opportunities. I was excited to get back."
With Julius Thomas out against the Dolphins because of a left ankle injury, the Broncos often used Green and reserve tackle Paul Cornick as the team’s two tight ends. Green played 54 snaps in the game, and Cornick played 17.
With Sunday night’s AFC West showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs looming, the Broncos, including coach John Fox, have also talked about maintaining the presence of the run in the team’s offense. The last time they faced the Chiefs, in Week 2, wide receiver Wes Welker was still serving his suspension for violating the league’s former policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and the Broncos lined up in a two-tight-end look for all but two snaps in the game -- they had one play with three wide receivers, and Manning had a kneel down to end the game.
Green said he hopes to again be part of the mix -- Thomas did not practice Wednesday because of the ankle injury -- and if a scoring pass lands in his hands, it would be a nice bonus.
"[Blocking] is just part of my job description," Green said. "I like to be as perfect as I can. [Tight ends] Coach [Clancy] Barone is on us real tough at the tight end position, and I’m just trying to get out there and just do my job. Don’t focus on anybody else’s job but my own."