They have reviewed the available options and are poised to add a tight end, possibly as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday. There are veteran players such as Jermaine Gresham and Zach Miller available, but Gresham has had some injury issues in the past and Miller was listed as “failed physical" when the Seattle Seahawks released him in March.
The Broncos do have Owen Daniels, Virgil Green, Joe Don Duncan, James Casey and Dominique Jones on the current roster. Gary Kubiak has typically kept four tight ends on the roster, or three tight ends with multiple fullbacks.
Daniels and Green are locks, as Heuerman would have been. Casey is currently being looked on as a fullback with special teams duties. Duncan and Jones -- who was on the active roster for one game in 2014 while spending the rest of the season on the practice squad -- will have a big climb to secure roster spots.
Casey was more a fullback and less a tight end as his time wore on in Casey’s seven seasons with the Texans with Kubiak, and the Broncos see him more as a fullback as well. Asked Monday about his growth as a fullback after coming into the league as a catch-first tight end, Casey said:
“I think I’m much better. I think I’m much better suited for the position. The fullback is tough. Early on in my career, I was more of a receiver coming out of college. I kind of had to work my way into working tight end, and then I had to learn fullback. I was always learning stuff. Now I feel real confident. I’ve played long enough. I’ve experienced almost everything that you can see football-wise. A lot of it is just mentality, learning what things are about, how to be physical, how to finish plays and things like that. I think I’m best suited for it now."
The Broncos do have four available roster spots -- they are at 86 players after releasing two players Monday. And they’ll be looking to add a player who could potentially earn a spot on the 53-man roster when training camp ends.
During John Elway’s tenure as the Broncos chief football decision-maker, the team has added veteran players right around the start of training campe that turned into starters, so they could pick up a tight end then. Linebacker Keith Brooking, linebacker Paris Lenon and safety Jim Leonhard were training camp additions that turned into starters in 2012 and 2013.
Heuerman’s injury put all of this in motion. His season ended Saturday afternoon when he tore his left ACL in a special teams drill. Kubiak had lauded Heuerman’s ability to absorb the playbook, and the Broncos’ staff felt Heuerman was in line for significant work in the offense.
“With Heuerman going down, I felt really, really terrible hearing that over the break that we had this last weekend," Casey said. “I’ve spoken with him. He’s a great guy. He’s going to bounce back from it. It’s one of those freak deals. You never want to see it happen, but he’s got a great mindset. I told him you can always try and find some kind of positive in anything. Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. That’s kind of the type of guy that he is. You always feel terrible -- you can’t work to try to prevent those things. They just happen. You feel terrible. I know he’ll be ready to go next year."