|08-12-2005, 09:17 PM||#1|
It's all over...
Join Date: Aug 2003
Wesley Duke Article
Broncos' Duke trying his Antonio Gates impersonation in preseason
BY FRANK SCHWAB
HOUSTON - (KRT) - Denver Broncos tight end Wesley Duke's last football season was 1999. He was injured after one play that year.
"I got a 10-yard first down," Duke said, although he blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the play and missed the rest of the year. Duke hopes Saturday night is his first football game in six years as the Broncos start their preseason against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.
Since his last football action at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Ga., Duke was a four-year starter on the basketball team at Mercer University and never played a down for the football team in college.
Duke is trying to hook on with the Broncos and follow the lead of San Diego Chargers' tight end Antonio Gates, who played basketball instead of football in college. Last year Gates set the NFL single-season record for touchdown catches in a season by a tight end.
"He really opened the door for guys like me," Duke said.
Duke isn't going to step into the lineup and perform like Gates. He is behind Stephen Alexander, Jeb Putzier, Nate Jackson, Patrick Hape and Mike Leach on the Broncos' depth chart. There's no guarantee he'll even get into Saturday night's game. Although he said he's hopeful that he can make the roster, his most realistic expectation this year is probably to land on the practice squad.
"Hopefully the coaches will be real patient and work with me," Duke said. "It's a lot of stuff to take in."
Duke is sixth among tight ends on the depth chart, but his athletic talent makes him an intriguing project. Duke finished fourth in a college slam-dunk contest earlier this year.
"He's a great athlete, he could probably play any sport he wanted as long as he put his mind to it," Alexander said. "He's a freaky athlete. He's a big guy that can run, he's a bright guy, and the sky is the limit for him."
Duke decided to play football professionally after he figured the NBA wouldn't be calling. There usually isn't much interest in 6-foot-5, 225-pound power forwards.
"My junior year when I didn't grow any more, and I realized `OK, well now it's time to do something else, basketball might not be the way,'" Duke said.
Denver signed Duke after he wasn't chosen in the NFL draft, and that's when reality started hitting Duke.
"It definitely was like starting all over," he said.
He said he's adjusting to the speed of the NFL, and learning the playbook was a daunting challenge.
Duke also had to be sure he was ready physically to play football. Duke tore the ACL in his left knee three times, in 1999, 2000 and 2001. He said the third time he tore it he took an extra year to rehabilitate it, and now he feels like his leg is stronger than it ever was.
Duke hopes to get a chance to play in the preseason but his any impact he makes for the Broncos probably won't come for a while.
"I feel like if I can learn the plays and just play football and just relax and be an athlete, I'll be all right," he said.
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|08-12-2005, 11:02 PM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Sep 2002
Duke has absolutely no chance of making the regular season roster in my humble opinion.
He was brought in purely as a developmental guy with the slightest hope he may surprise everyone.
Practice Squad & NFL Euro ONLY if he begins to show some promise.
So far, he has been something of a dud
|08-12-2005, 11:07 PM||#4|
RIP Darrent Williams
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Glendale, AZ
Thnaks wabbit, i also agree 1 year on the PS for him, then off to Euro, and if hes not improving a ton by then, cut cut, your outta here.
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