<
>

Broncos claim TE Mitchell Henry, C James Ferentz off waivers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Both John Elway and Gary Kubiak said they liked the Denver Broncos' 53-man roster Saturday when the initial cuts were made. However, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t like a new player or two on Sunday as well.

The Broncos claimed two players off waivers Sunday: tight end Mitchell Henry and center James Ferentz. Henry, an undrafted rookie, was waived by the Green Bay Packers, while Ferentz was waived by the Houston Texans. Elway had left the roster door ajar for such moves Saturday when asked how aggressively the Broncos would look at the list of newly available players league-wide.

“We’ll see, we’ll see what comes across," Elway said Saturday. “I mean, we’re always going to be fluid with it."

To make room for the two additions, the Broncos waived running back Montee Ball, a former second-round pick in 2013 who had been the team’s starting running back to open 2014, and center Gino Gradkowski. The Broncos had traded a draft pick to acquire Gradkowski, who was with the Baltimore Ravens last season when Kubiak was the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

Gradkowski was in the final year of a four-year, $2.58 million deal he signed with the Ravens as a rookie in 2012. He had opened training camp as the starter but was quickly passed by Matt Paradis on the depth chart.

Paradis has worked as the Broncos’ starting center since early August.

Henry had one catch in the preseason -- for 11 yards -- but also spent time in training camp playing with a cast on his left hand after fracturing his middle finger. Henry joins a Broncos depth chart with just two full-time tight ends in Owen Daniels and Virgil Green.

Following his senior season at Western Kentucky, Henry ran a 4.69 40-yard dash, at 252 pounds, at his pro day to go with a 37-inch vertical jump. Many scouts believed he could contribute as a receiver fairly quickly but needed more strength to be a full-time player. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 15 times at his pro day.

Ferentz, whose father, Kirk, is the head coach at the University of Iowa, was the No. 3 center for the Texans when the preseason finished. The Texans had hoped to bring him back on the team’s practice squad if he cleared waivers.

Ferentz almost did clear, given Denver was 28th in the claiming order, but the Broncos see a mobile player who fits their scheme on offense. Ferentz will be behind Paradis on the depth chart.

But rookie Max Garcia and guard Shelley Smith can also play center if needed for the Broncos. The Broncos got a long look at Ferentz last month when he played 62 snaps in the Broncos-Texans preseason game, the most playing time for a player in the game from either team.