A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: James Casey
Position: Tight End
Height: 6'3 Weight: 240
Age: 30 Experience: 7
With the departure of Pro-Bowl tight end Julius Thomas to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, the Denver Broncos were proactive and signed a handful of players to help replace his production. None of the names stick out as All-Pro performers that will be game changers for the Broncos, but each have their own unique skill set that will serve the team well in 2015. One of the off-season additions was James Casey, who figures to play an integral role in the Broncos offense this coming season.
Casey isn't a player most Broncos fans have kept track of during his career, but the new coaching staff in Denver is quite familiar with the Rice product, who was drafted in 2009 by Gary Kubiak and played an important role for his team(s) as a versatile weapon capable of playing multiple spots in his offense. With Virgil Green and Owen Daniels expected to get the bulk of the attention in the receiving game, the Broncos will look to Casey to serve primarily as a fullback and a jack-of-all trades type player on offense. Denver hasn't sported a fullback on the roster in quite some time, so the positional resurgence in 2015 will excite fans who have longed for a return to a hard-nosed, smash mouth football.
Ryan Harris could be a surprise starter at tackle
Harris experience and understanding of the zone-blocking system may help pave the way towards a starting job, but injury concerns over the course of his career are a large concern.
The good: The highlight of Casey's game is the versatility he brings to the Broncos. He has the unique ability to be lined up at multiple spots including fullback, tight end and h-back. Additionally, he offers exceptional run and pass blocking capabilities that will earn him a good share of snaps offensively. Extensive experience and knowledge of Kubiak's offensive system and has worked alongside Owen Daniels in two tight end sets with the Texans, which should bolster the effectiveness of the teams offense when on the field together.
Posted the best numbers of his career and had the most playing time under Kubiak, so it is logical to expect an increase in productivity in comparison to the last two years with the Eagles. He is a tough, savvy veteran whose maturity and approach to the game will be beneficial in serving as a mentor for younger players on the roster. A jack-of-all-trades type player with underrated athleticism and impeccable knowledge of the game who plays smart, assignment oriented football.
The bad: Despite showing his versatility as a receiver and tight end with the Rice Owls, he has never been a game changer in the receiving game in the NFL. After signing a three year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, he was released from his contract for not performing up to expectations. Doesn't offer a long-term solution at the position for the team, as he only signed a one-year contract during free agency.
Quotable: "I think I’m best suited for it now. I’m older in my career. The physical nature of the game as opposed to running around all over the place, when you’re young it’s awesome, but as you get a little bit older, you enjoy the blocking, doing your part and whatever you are responsible in the run game."— James Casey on the prospect of being the Broncos primary fullback
Status: There is absolutely no question that Casey will earn a spot on the final 53 man roster. Though he is not a long-term solution for the Broncos at tight end or fullback, all his positives will make him a quality contributor for the Broncos who will undergo a significant change on offense. His blocking prowess is a welcomed addition to the squad and will undoubtedly improve their efficacy offensively, especially in the run game.