Good morning, Broncos Country!
There are moments in life when time stands still.
When they happen, you just hope your mind’s camera is focused on capturing the right memories so that you can recall them later. We’ve all stashed away a few of those Polaroid moments that are capable of making us smile several years later.
Jeff Heuerman will have one of those moments today when he makes his NFL debut against the Cincinnati Bengals. Finally. After over a year’s wait. With the string of bad luck the Denver Broncos tight end has encountered since he was drafted, Heuerman had to wonder if this day would come.
Well, here it is. And not only will he see his dream come true, he gets to do it not far from where he played college football at Ohio State University. As the old adage goes, things happen for a reason. As Adam Malnati and I discussed on Mile High Report Radio, Heuerman is one of my player’s to watch in today’s game.
"It’s pretty cool," Heuerman told the media earlier this week. "I have a lot of people coming to the game. I’ve actually played in that stadium. We played a spring game there a couple of years ago, my sophomore or junior year spring game, and it was good."
Now that Heuerman has cleared the first hurdle by finally getting on the field, it’s time to make good on the hype. Since he was drafted, fans have heard how special he could become in this offense. With the absence of Virgil Green, the expectation is the Broncos won’t miss a beat on the offensive side of the ball.
That’s a lot for a young player to take on in a situation that is already emotional. That’s where Heurman’s teammates and coaches will play a huge role in helping to keep him level headed. After all, once you’re on the field, it’s just football. Do your job and the rest will take care of itself.
"He’s such a big guy," Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. "He’s long; he does a lot of good things. It‘s just a matter of if he’s ready to go and where he’s fitting in, and we’re trying to work him in practice and see what we got from there.
"We don’t want to put anybody back, so I just work with the guys and try and make sure the game plan is reviewed for everybody. If they don’t take the rep, then they see the rep anyway. We’ll just see. Obviously we like Jeff well enough to draft him pretty high; he just missed a year."
This is where confidence comes into the fold, and Heuerman has no shortage of that. He knows he can do what is asked of him while he also proves the organization was right to draft him.
"Yes, it’s about time," Heuerman said. "I do need to get in there and make some plays and help this team win on the road this weekend. I’m excited to get out there with the guys, run around and get back to playing."
What helps a young player is to know their coaches believe in them, and there’s no doubt Gary Kubiak and Dennison feel that way about Heuerman.
"Jeff can do a lot," Kubiak said this week. "He’s a very bright kid. He’s capable of working on the line of scrimmage; he’s capable of beating man-coverage. That’s the good thing. I think (John) Phillips has really helped him, too - his veteran presence. You just sit here and keep your fingers crossed for Jeff.
"He’s been battling his tail off to be a part of this thing. It’s going to be a big weekend for him, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and put him to work."
The moment Heurman has waited for his entire life has finally arrived. He gets to make his NFL debut and do it not far from where he made so many other memories.
Amid the pressure that is the NFL, hopefully he takes the time to soak it all in. That his mind is able to snap as many photos as possible so he can relive this special moment for the rest of his life.
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