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Nathaniel Hackett: Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam ‘needs some reps’

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett felt tight end Albert Okwuegbunam needed all the reps he could get to prepare for Week 1.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that was noticed on Saturday during the Denver Broncos rough 42-15 preseason loss to the Buffalo Bills was how deep into the game tight end Albert Okwuegbunam played. He started the game and continued to play deep into the fourth quarter.

When asked about this, Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett noted that Albert O is a guy that ‘needs some reps’ and was pleased with his overall performance in that game.

“There are guys that some have played a little more football than others,” Hackett said after the game. “But Albert’s [Okwuegbunam] a guy who needs some reps. It was great to see him miss that first one and then come back and catch the next one because that’s what he does. He vertically stretches down the field. I’m excited to see the film and see where they are at.”

Okwuegbunam hauled in four receptions for 32 yards, but one of those was a big play for a 26 yard gain. That big play came at the start of the fourth quarter and would lead to the Broncos only touchdown drive of the game. However, the real reason he likely was on the field for the better part of a whole game could come down to his blocking.

While hearing that a potential starter ‘needs reps’ in the preseason isn’t the greatest thing to hear from a fan’s perspective, it is good that Hackett is making sure each and every player on the team is getting the attention needed to prepare them for Week 1. And being a viable run blocker is a big part of a tight ends job.

Albert Okwuegbunam was asked about the high volume of playing team he got in the game and deferred the reasoning to the coaches and noted he’ll go out there and play whenever he is called upon.

“I don’t really pay attention to when I’m playing and not playing,” Okwuegbunam said. “It’s out of my control and not my decision. I’m going to go out there and compete whenever my name is called.”

It will be interesting to see where he goes in the final preseason game. If Hackett and the coaching staff continue to see improvement needed in important areas, we could to continue to see Okwuegbunam play late into the final preseason game.

In a weird way, I find this situation both a positive and a negative. It’s concerning that coaches feel the need for Okwuegbunam to play every snap in a preseason game, but its also good that they are getting him those extra reps to get ready for the regular season. So I guess, I’m a bit on the fence.

What do you think of this situation?