The Broncos begin their first set of OTA practices today and the Broncos will be without a few players. 9NEWS’s Mike Klis reported late Monday night that offensive lineman Jared Veldheer and Ron Leary (among others) will be absent from OTA’s.
Among Broncos who won’t participate or will be limited because of injuries/precautionary reasons when OTAs open tomorrow: Jordan Taylor, Jared Veldheer, Clinton McDonald, Ron Leary, De’Angelo Henderson. Taylor recovering from hip surgery is most significant. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) May 22, 2018
The Leary and Veldheer absences are likely just pre-cautionary for the two veteran offensive linemen who have dealt with injuries throughout their career. Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is likely getting the veteran rest as well. Second-year running back De’Angelo Henderson was involved in a scary rollover accident recently and suffered minor injuries, None of those injuries are expected to sideline him long, but will be a tough blow to the second-year back who is vying for playing time in a wide-open backfield competition.
The real major injury recovery here is too wide receiver Jordan Taylor. He underwent hip surgery this offseason and will likely miss a big part of the offseason and potentially some of Training Camp. With the Broncos keeping their two veteran starters and drafting four receivers the past two years, an extended absence from Taylor could be very damaging to his odds of making the team.
Heuerman to be the Broncos top tight end entering OTA’s
According to 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis, now veteran tight end Jeff Heuerman will be the Broncos starting tight end as they begin their first round of OTA’s.
The former third-round pick hasn’t had the best NFL career up to now. He missed his entire rookie year due to a torn ACL and hasn’t produced much at all during the past two seasons.
During his two healthy NFL seasons, Heuerman has totaled 18 receptions for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now with him being the “veteran” tight end of the group, he will get the first shot at locking down the Broncos starting tight end position. However, Klis notes that 2017 5th-round pick, Jake Butt who is now healthy will mix in as well. Butt who fell in the 2017 draft due to injury has starting talent and will push Heuerman for the starting job as the spring and summer goes on.
Menelik Watson moving to guard
This nugget has been hinted at and rumored throughout the offseason, but Klis confirmed that Menelik Watson will transition from tackle to guard.
“Keenum’s offensive line, from left to right, will be Garett Bolles, Ron Leary, Matt Paradis, Connor McGovern (with Menelik Watson rotating in), and Billy Turner (until Jared Veldheer is cleared from last season’s ankle injury).”
The oft-injured Watson will compete with Connor McGovern for the starting right guard position. Veteran Ron Leary will move back to left guard while McGovern and Watson(among others) will compete for the right guard spot. McGovern will get the first-nod at the spot but Watson will mix in as well. This is a battle that will be one to watch throughout the spring but will only intensify during camp when the pads finally come on.
For the first time in 2018, Case Keenum will lead the Broncos number one offensive through 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills.
“Phase Three consists of the next four weeks of the program,” according to the NFL. “Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or ‘OTAs’. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.”
It will be un-padded practices, but it will be nice to see how Keenum and the rest of the Broncos offense fairs. Any signs of improvement will be nice to see after the past few seasons of ineptitude from the Broncos quarterbacks and their offense.
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