|06-10-2005, 08:52 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Jacksonville, FL
"Case in point: TIght Ends" article and a few random things
Case in points: tight ends
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
June 10, 2005
The Denver Broncos just might find at least part of the solution to their difficulties in the red zone last season among the tight ends who plowed their way through the team's mini-camp during the past two weeks.
At least, that is the opinion of one of the players vying for a job.
"Look at the league right now - the teams that have a lot of success in the red zone, the tight end is usually the one doing the damage," said Stephen Alexander, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent after stints in Washington, San Diego and Detroit. "Hopefully, we can do that. I feel like we have enough guys to get it done."
The Broncos ranked fifth in the league last season in yards per game (395.8) but were ninth in scoring (23.8 points a game). More troubling for the Broncos was the fact they ranked third in the four-team AFC West in scoring, behind Kansas City and San Diego.
The Broncos have spent much of the off-season, including a passing camp last month, on trying to repair some of those red zone troubles.
"When you have that, it can really create some mismatches with a defense - coverage problems," Alexander said. "If you want to play man-to-man, a linebacker or safety just can't cover a tight end one one - at least a guy who can run.
"That was a major factor in me coming here. It's a great offense."
A two-tight-end look was the Broncos' most productive last season, especially down the stretch.
Alexander, who has recorded three 40-catch seasons in his previous seven, could help. But the Broncos also have plenty of expectations for Jeb Putzier.
They matched the five-year, $12.5 million offer Putzier got from the New York Jets in March. Putzier played about half the team's offensive snaps last season but often was taken out of the lineup when the Broncos were inside the opponent's 20-yard line because Dwayne Carswell and Patrick Hape were considered better blockers.
But he is looking for more this time and knows the Broncos are hoping for the same.
"I'm just more confident," Putzier said. "It's a long way to go yet before the season, but I'm excited because I think we can do a lot of great things. . . . It's what I've been hoping the last three years. I'm just trying to keep on getting better every day. I think I've come a million miles from where I was at."
NO WORRIES: Defensive tackle Gerard Warren came to Denver seeking a fresh start after many questioned his work ethic in his four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
But Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who gave up a fourth-round pick in the draft this year to get Warren from the Browns, said he has been nothing but pleased with Warren.
"Right from the beginning, Warren has done an excellent job," Shanahan said. "He's won almost every sprint drill, and I've been very impressed with the way he's worked out in the off-season. He's been a leader up front in all the sprints and just the way he's handled himself, it's pretty impressive. Hopefully, he can keep it up."
Warren, who was the third pick of the 2001 draft, has been working with the starting defense.
ON THE REBOUND: On Thursday, as the Broncos wrapped up full- team, on-field workouts until their next mini-camp, July 6-8, Shanahan said he expected defensive ends Courtney Brown (foot) and Ebenezer Ekuban (knee, shoulder) and running back Quentin Griffin (knee) to be at full speed by then.
Brown, who failed his physical in Cleveland before being released by the Browns in March, missed 14 games last season because of a torn ligament in his left foot.
Shanahan said the Broncos have been conservative with Brown's work in the off-season.
"He's just getting healthy now. We didn't want to overdo it," Shanahan said. "We wanted to take some strides where we didn't set him back, so we were a little bit cautious rather than putting him out there too quick. . . . So this is a time of the year that you make sure when a guy rehabs that you don't do it too quickly."
Cornerback Jeff Shoate, who underwent surgery in April to repair a tendon in his left knee, likely will not be at full speed until training camp. Shoate did not take part in team drills during the past two weeks.