Two tight end sets are going to be an issue.
The Denver Broncos only have three tight ends on their 53-man roster and two of them – A.J. Derby and Jeff Heuerman – have been ruled out for the game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals because of injuries.
Derby suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday night against the New England Patriots and Heuerman has a knee injury.
That leaves Virgil Green as the Broncos’ only healthy tight end. Green has been a solid pro since the Broncos’ selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. But it’s not like he can go out for a pass and stay in to block at the same time.
The Broncos are expected to call up tight end Austin Traylor from their practice squad. Traylor bounced around various practice squads last year as a rookie, but has spent this entire season practicing on the Broncos’ scout team.
He knows the offense and has earned the right to make his NFL debut. The problem is the Broncos would have to move another player off their roster. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he could have a backup offensive tackle play a tight end position.
A team generally needs three tight ends in a game, though, so the most logical move would be to have Green, Traylor and an offensive tackle man the tight end spots Sunday.
Paxton not yet announced as No. 2
Joseph did clarify Friday that he would dress two quarterbacks, not three, for the game against Cincinnati. Brock Osweiler is the starter, but Joseph did not commit to Paxton Lynch as the No. 2 even though the later took back-up reps all week.
Trevor Siemian, an offensive co-captain, was dropped to the No. 3 quarterback this week.
“The determining factors would be how well we thought Paxton practiced this week,’’ Joseph said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Asked specifically if Lynch played well enough in practice to be active as the No. 2 quarterback for the first time this season, Joseph said: “Absolutely, he could be up.’’
It could be Joseph is exercising some gamesmanship in not announcing Lynch as his backup.
Otherwise, it’s difficult to believe the team would give Lynch a full week of second-string reps and then not have him be the No. 2 quarterback on game day.
Then again, this has been an odd quarterback situation for the Broncos all season.
Olivo addresses special teams debacle
Broncos special teams coordinator Brock Olivo faced the press for the first team Friday since his units were blamed for directly, or indirectly surrendering 24 points in a 41-16 loss to New England last Sunday.
There was a dropped punt by rookie Isaiah McKenzie that led to Patriots’ touchdown, a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by New England’s Dion Lewis, a blocked Riley Dixon punt that led to a field goal, and a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that turned a Patriot punt into a Tom Brady touchdown drive.
Olivo was asked if he was surprised by the public vitriol he received. An English Literature major at the University of Missouri, Olivo was not stumped by the term, vitriol.
“Any vitriol that I would receive would be justified because it was a deplorable performance,’’ Olivo said. “This place has a high standard and that’s why I love being here because it does have a high standard. You don’t want to be in a place where mediocracy is accepted. Nobody wants that. This place is known for its Hall of Famers and its Super Bowls. I have to live up to that level.
“So, no, I’m not surprised at the vitriol and in fact, I deserved it. I need it and it’ll make us better.”
Joseph changed up his practice schedule this week. Instead of having a walkthrough/body recovery day on Friday, the Broncos had a more traditional practice.
The tweak was about addressing the Broncos’ 43.3 percent red-zone efficiency, which ranks 30th in the league. And that’s after converting 7 of 9 (77.8 percent) red-zone trips through their first two games.
“That was more of the plan hitting the mid-way mark to get more work in the red zone areas,’’ Joseph said. “It was planned that way. It helped to get us more work in the red zone on Fridays and to get more (red zone work) tomorrow.”