Four Tight Ends could answer Denver’s RB and WR questions.

As was touched on in the RB piece, Denver could be forced to keep five backs on the 53; however, having four TEs could alter that.

McCoy has shown he likes to break camp with three TEs. However, in 2011 under McCoy, five TEs started games. Four of them played in 14+ games. For you geeks, Chris Clark was used as a TE to help the running backs and Tebow. (He didn’t play as the lone TE).

Right now, we have Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and AJ Derby on the 53.  The fact they drafted Jake Butt brings up questions. Were they planning on keeping four or cut a TE for him or figured Butt wouldn’t count? Which leads us to Virgil. No offense, he’s a great blocker, and could be used like Clark was, but as a dependable receiver, not so much. Plus, if the other TEs can block, Green is worth more cut, than kept. $2,800,000 more.

My guess is, Jake Butt could be red-shirted. Starting the season on PUP, buys the team six weeks to see where he’s at. That would be the second Chargers game in LA. They either IR him or they keep him on the 53.

Call me skeptical, but it took Jeff Heuerman until the end of last season to bring it on. Not just because of the ACL, but from an additional injury brought on by bringing him back too fast. Additionally, as a rookie, jumping in mid season, and not allowed to practice with the ones, what could he really bring? So, scratch one TE.

Purely based on them drafting a fourth TE, which could indicate that’s the direction they’d like, that has me looking at Steven Scheu and Henry Krieger-Coble. Steven is a stereotypical 6’6″ 250lb TE. He’s been making catches all through the Spring and so he jumps to the top of the list. HKC dressed out for the last Raiders game, and last preseason he looked promising, but size may have been a factor in relegating him to the PS. Since I haven’t seen his name mentioned, for now, going to put Scheu at the top.

The next player to address is WR, Marlon Brown. 6’5″ 214. He lit it up the beginning of his rookie season for Baltimore, but injuries sidelined him there and here. If he can stay healthy through the pre-season and show the skills he has, he could change the balance of team. His height and speed, plus his catch ability could mean goodbye to Bennie Fowler and most likely Cody Latimer.

Brock Olivo has been very straight about wanting to keep both slots, Isaiah McKenzie and Carlos Henderson. The beauty of them is they don’t take away from an offense number on the roster, but both could play slot. In addition, if big bodied Brown shows out, Emmanuel Sanders can be slid to the slot, even though it’s not his preference. That could mean, DT, E, Brown, Taylor, plus a slot. Oh, and a good catching TE can be the slot, too. Some could argue for Latimer because he’s a gunner, but a fourth TE could take that spot.

So, we have a math problem. We can’t have 4 TEs, 5 WRs and 5 RBs. Something has to give. As stated in the RB article, it would be best if Jamaal Charles is a full go and Denver can keep only four backs (3RB/1FB). Even if Charles is 90%, they could use four RBs IF a TE can step it up. We haven’t done it often, but TEs can be used like a FB, too.

In 2012, with a system close to what I believe we’ll run, McCoy had 3WR/2TE as starters. He had 4WR/4TE/4RB/2 QBs on the roster. This doesn’t include the three WR/RBs on ST. If we have 4 TEs, have McKenzie & Henderson on Special Teams, plus Hop Henderson RB, we have a balanced team with the extra tools on ST.

We need a run game, we don’t have one sure RB, we only have two top caliber WRs despite a couple Jordan Taylor acrobatic catches. This puts a lot on the TEs. Below is four graphics showing the many ways a TE can be used.

The more dynamic the offense can be by  mixing and matching guys in various spots in the formation, the better. It’s very similar to having wide receivers that can go from out wide on the edge, to being able to shift inside to run routes from the slots. It makes defenses pay better attention to where guys are lining up which can delay the efficiency.

One other contributing factors to the 53-man roster puzzle will be the versatility and health of Fullback, Andy Janovich. If he’s dynamic enough to take some snaps at TE, then it allows McCoy more wiggle room when it comes to the RB/FB/TE/WR roster game.

There have also been the reverse when Denver used a TE from FB positions (see play 3 below). You saw this with Jacob Tamme shifting from a wing/slot position back into the backfield. At times, it was as much for help in protecting the passer as it was anything, but if Janovich can motion in and out of the backfield it only helps the offense become more dynamic, harder to scout and harder to defend.

The more dynamic the offense can be by  mixing and matching guys in various spots in the formation, the better. It’s very similar to having wide receivers that can go from out wide on the edge, to being able to shift inside to run routes from the slots. It makes defenses pay better attention to where guys are lining up which can delay the efficiency.

While much depends on what the QB can do in determining the make up of the offense, one thing is for certain, Denver couldn’t go wrong in carrying four TEs as back-up to their RB and WR problem. Heck, their OL is an issue, too. TE’s can ease many questions.

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