ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – With the Denver Broncos training camp underway, let’s take a look at each position. Here’s how the Broncos look at the tight end position.
In the Hunt:
Jake Butt, 3rd season
Noah Fant, rookie
Austin Fort, rookie
Troy Fumagalli, 2nd season
Jeff Heuerman, 5th season
Bug Howard, 1st season
Projected Starter: Jeff Heuerman
With Fant being a rookie, Butt and Fumagalli coming back from season-ending injuries, Heuerman comes into camp as the starter. He has the most experience being in his fifth season and was re-signed to a 2-year, $8 million contract in the offseason.
Reserves: Noah Fant, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, Austin Fort, Bug Howard
Don’t worry about Fant not starting immediately. When the San Francisco 49ers broke camp last year, star tight end George Kittle was the backup to Garrett Celek. Kittle went onto rack up 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns.
Best Training Camp Battle: Jake Butt vs Troy Fumagalli
This is entirely based on if the Broncos will keep three or four tight ends on the roster. With the Broncos drafting Noah Fant in the first round and re-signing veteran tight end Jeff Heuerman, the battle for the third tight end position will be between two former fifth-round picks who are coming back from season-ending injuries.
Butt, the Broncos fifth-round pick in 2017, shown flashes of what made him the John Mackey Award winner as the top tight end in college football, hauling in eight catches for 85 yards. But he tore his ACL in a walk-through in the special teams portion of practice. This is his third ACL injury in the last four years.
Fumagalli, the Broncos fifth-round pick in 2018, missed all of last year due to a sports hernia injury. He has the ability to be a productive pass catcher based on his numbers at Wisconsin, where he caught at least 40 passes for 500 yards in each of his last two seasons.
Under the Radar: Austin Fort
The undrafted rookie from Wyoming made several plays in the red zone during OTA’s and in minicamp. Fort played in a run dominant system for the Cowboys last year after playing with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in 2017. He’s a long shot to make the roster and would be a perfect practice squad candidate.
Stats to Know:
– Broncos tight ends in 2018 combined for 68 receptions, 649 yards and 3 TDs. It’s the lowest touchdown total from the position since 2016 when Denver’s tight ends recorded only two touchdowns.
– In the last three seasons, Joe Flacco has targeted a tight end on 23 percent of his passes. This is the fifth-highest rate in the NFL.
What They Said: Noah Fant on his mentality as a first-round pick
“My mentality is to come in and work as hard as I can. I feel like if I do that, then I’ll set myself up to do great things. Anything that the coaches ask of me and anything that I’m asked to do is what I’m going to do and do it to the best of my ability.”
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