Tim Patrick’s season-ending knee damage leaves the Denver Broncos looking for the best way to exchange the big-bodied receiver’s manufacturing.
Denver has a superb large receiver trio remaining in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Ok.J. Hamler to lean on, however it would miss Patrick’s red-zone manufacturing.
Over the previous three seasons, Patrick has generated eight red-zone touchdowns — tied with former tight finish Noah Fant for many on the crew in that span.
Sutton’s measurement may assist fill that void, however Patrick’s damage can even thrust extra work on tight ends Albert Okwuegbunam and Greg Dulcich, a third-round rookie.
Coach Nathaniel Hackett mentioned the Broncos will want the TEs to step as much as fill the void.
“[They’re] going to should be,” he mentioned, through the crew’s official web site. “Flipping it, clearly very upset [Patrick’s] not right here, however now here is a chance for any person to step up. Particularly within the pink zone, to have the chance to make some touchdowns, make the most of some totally different folks, that is what we’ll should do. And in that space, you all the time need everyone to should cowl the entire subject … and all of the ability guys. It will be thrilling to see who’s going to step up. Any individual’s going to should.”
Dulcich was pushing Al O for TE1 duties early this offseason earlier than struggling an damage. The rookie may play a extra vital function as a pass-catcher following Patrick’s damage.
“There’s lots of guys, and never solely are they massive our bodies, however these dudes can run,” Hackett mentioned. “You noticed it a pair occasions already watching all these guys … getting Dulcich again, [him] being slowly labored again in, watching Albert run, [Eric] Saubert run, [Andrew] Beck’s run properly. Every time you could have that type of a fluid participant that may be on the road and block to benefit from matchups there and on the identical time stretch the sphere vertically, you are actually excited.”
Patrick was additionally seen as an choice to play a “massive slot” function in Hackett’s offense, a job that may now must be crammed. The Broncos may use their prime two tight ends to fill these snaps, splitting out to the slot, significantly within the pink zone.
“I believe … one of many beauties of this offense, particularly on the tight finish place, is simply the power to place us anyplace,” Okwuegbunam mentioned. “While you put me towards a linebacker, I’ll be sooner than him. While you put me towards a DB, I’ll be greater than him. I believe that is the place it straight creates that mismatch.”
Patrick’s damage was a brutal blow for the Broncos early in camp. However they’ve time to regulate. Transferring the tight ends across the formation is a method Hackett can milk manufacturing out of huge our bodies with certainly one of their greatest pink zone threats on the shelf in 2022.