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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Jacob Tamme was the OTHER free agent who chose Denver as his destination last year after making a name for himself in Indianapolis.
His familiarity with Peyton Manning paid off with a starting role for the Broncos in 2012, and he ranked third on the club in catches (52) and yards receiving (555) to go along with two TDs.
That all changed this season with the emergence of Julius Thomas.
With the third-year tight end having an All-Pro kind of season and leading the high-flying Broncos with 10 touchdown catches, Tamme was relegated to special teams and spot duty on offense, where he had just three catches for 27 yards heading into last weekend’s game at New England.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating sometimes just because I know what I can do and everyone’s eager to have that role and do those things,” Tamme said. “But we’ve got a lot of good players on this team and that’s the way it’s been since I got here. So, Julius has done a great job.
“I feel like I can step in and go and make plays whenever my number’s been called.”
Tamme gave everyone a reminder of his value Sunday night when Thomas missed the game against the Patriots with a balky right knee.
“Jacob had some really significant, contested catches in big moments,” interim coach Jack Del Rio said.
On a frigid night at Gillette Stadium, when the football felt like a frozen turkey and the Broncos lost five fumbles and dropped seven passes, Tamme caught all five thrown his way, covering 47 hard-earned yards.
Four of those were third-down conversions, including a 10-yard TD just before halftime. He also drew a critical pass interference call that set up the late touchdown that sent the game into overtime.
It’s a performance that might have bought him a bigger role down the stretch, even though Thomas is on track to return to action Sunday at Kansas City in an AFC West showdown between two 9-2 teams.
“We like to reward guys that do well and give them a little more,” Del Rio said. “And I would think that would be a strong possibility.”
The Broncos might use more two-tight end sets because Tamme is sure-handed and a tough matchup on intermediate routes that are so crucial in Manning’s quick-fire release.
In the meantime, Tamme said he’ll keep embracing his role on special teams, where he leads the team with eight tackles.
“It’s a fun consolation for me because I do enjoy it,” Tamme said. “I think as you get older, as you get a few years in this league, you realize just how important special teams are to the game and how much of an effect you can have if you can become a guy that teams have to look at.”
Tamme didn’t play much on special teams last year when he and Joel Dreessen were the starting tight ends and combined to catch 93 passes for 911 yards and seven TDs.
Both were hurt last summer, Tamme with a thigh injury and Dreessen with knee problems, opening the door for Thomas.
Now, Thomas has 45 catches for 590 yards, and he’s tied the franchise single-season record for a tight end with 10 TD catches set by Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. Meanwhile, Tamme and Dreessen have combined for 11 catches, 87 yards and two scores.
The way Tamme sees it, special teams allow him to get back to the basics of football, to when he first learned the game at Boyle County High School in Danville, Ky.
“I like the defensive side of it. I like the kickoff team and punt return, being able to go rush a punter and then go make a tackle,” Tamme said.
In Indianapolis, he was Dallas Clark’s backup before making a name for himself in 2010, when he caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four TDs.
“You’ve got to appreciate every snap in this league. It doesn’t last forever,” Tamme said. “That’s why it is frustrating when you’re not playing as much on offense, but when you’re a part of a team like this that has a chance to do really good things, a team that has a legitimate chance to get that end goal, that’s what it’s about for me.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos were relieved weakside linebacker Danny Trevathan’s knee injury wasn’t serious after he was carted off the field toward the end of Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m good! Thanks for all of your concerns #BroncosUp,” Trevathan tweeted after his MRI came back negative.
Trevathan will likely be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Dallas. Teammates initially feared a serious injury to Trevathan, a second-year pro who is having a stellar season.
“It was really tough,” fellow linebacker Steven Johnson said. “I mean, when I see Danny go down, we all walked over to him. Practice kind of came to a halt for a good three to five minutes, and we were sitting there, just kind of praying for him.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Trevathan was the league’s top 4-3 outside linebacker against the run in the first month of the season. He’s also very active in pass coverage. He’s second on the team with 30 tackles and 24 unassisted tackles and has a sack, an interception and four pass breakups so far.
Trevathan, a second-year pro from Kentucky, worked his way into the starting lineup this summer when the Broncos moved Wesley Woodyard to middle linebacker and inserted Nate Irving on the strongside with All-Pro Von Miller having to sit out the first six games on a drug suspension.
By LARRY VAUGHT
One good thing for me Saturday was reported by Mike Klis of The Denver Post who reported that former UK star Jacob Tamme was one of four tight ends that made the Denver Broncos roster.
Denver did waive rookie receiver Tavarres King, a fifth-round pick in part because tight ends Tamme and Julius Thomas can play the slot. Denver also kept tight ends Virgil Green and Joel Dreessen,.
“There are many reasons why the Broncos kept Tamme despite his $2.625 million salary. Here’s another: Week 1 opponent Baltimore, which lost Dennis Pitta for the season, would have signed Tamme a minute after he hit the market,” Klis said.
And my buddy Alan Cutler of WLEX-TV had told me the same thing about Tamme to Baltimore two weeks ago. But the good news today is that Tamme is still in Denver and still on the roster.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Could former Kentucky standout Jacob Tamme be in danger of being cut by the Denver Broncos?
Based on information on a blog on AllDenverSports.com, it could happen even though Tamme signed a year ago to follow his old quarterback Peyton Manning from Indianapolis to Denver.
Here is what the blog noted:
“Tamme is currently dealing with a right quad injury that has kept him out for the majority of camp. To make things worse for the tight end out of Kentucky, during his absence, the rest of the tight ends in camp have are performing at a high level.
“Julius Thomas is ultimately Tamme’s biggest threat. Both tight ends look to play similar roles in QB Peyton Manning’s offense. However, with Tamme’s reps up for grabs, Thomas has taken full advantage with a tremendous camp. He is playing at the highest level that he’s ever played before and Manning is taking notice with plenty of balls going Thomas’ way as of late.
“Thomas struggled with injuries and understanding the offense early in his career. Now Thomas is healthy and the offense finally clicked. The intriguing thing about Thomas is the mix of his size and athleticism. He’s officially 6-5, 250 pounds and has tremendous feet. He is a mismatch for the defense waiting to happen. His speed and size are too tough to handle. He’s too big and fast for most defensive backs and linebackers. Although Tamme has pretty good size and speed himself, he just doesn’t match up to Thomas.
“There is still plenty of camp left and the preseason is yet to start, so it may not be too late for Tamme. However, he must find a way to get back on the field. His injury opened the door of opportunity for Thomas and the way Thomas is playing, he doesn’t look to give it back.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
If not for Joker Phillips, Jacob Tamme might not be playing in the NFL today.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch but remember that it was Phillips who wisely moved Tamme from receiver to tight end as soon as he took over as offensive coordinator back in 2006 after Ron Hudson was fired late in the season. Tamme responded with his first touchdown catch at Tennessee in UK’s final regular-season game and went on to become an all-Southeastern Conference selection and NFL draft pick.
That’s why Tamme wasn’t quite sure how to react Sunday when former UK teammate Wesley Woodyard told him after they had helped Denver beat the host Cincinnati Bengals that Phillips had been fired. Both Tamme and Woodyard came back to Lexington last month to show support for Phillips and were on the sideline with him — and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart,
“We always talk about the program and our time there and we keep up with what’s going on so it wasn’t ‘unexpected’ because I’ve seen the fan base deteriorating. But that doesn’t make it easy, especially for those of us who have so many connections to this staff,” said Tamme. “Joker was instrumental in my development as my position coach and later as offensive coordinator.
“Obviously I don’t know the status of the rest of the staff but I know situations like this are always difficult on those guys — and one of those guys, Chuck Smith, taught me what winning football is.”
Smith was Tamme’s coach at Boyle County when he was on four straight state championship teams and was part of a 47-game win streak. No one has been prouder of Tamme’s success with the Indianapolis Colts and now the Broncos than Smith and no one has praised Smith more than Tamme.
It also has hurt Tamme to see the program he helped start winning games and going to bowl games suffer the way it has the last two years.
“It’s hard, when you look at the success that was built over the last six or seven years, to see this current situation. I think Joker said in his statement (after his dismissal) that ‘change is needed’ – I suppose that is true,” Tamme said. “But it’s hard to see because I know how hard he’s worked and how much he wanted to succeed for our state and school.
“One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten is that we’ve seen some great moments in UK football over the past six or seven years. Joker was a big part of all those.”
Those moments included a win over eventual national champion LSU when Tamme was there as well as the goal-post game against Georgia. It includes last year’s win over Tennessee or the 2010 victory over South Carolina and coach Steve Spurrier.
Tamme says it’s not hard to remember what his best memories of Phillips will be.
“I remember how excited and proud he was after some of our memorable victories. I remember how far we came as an offense when he took over as offensive coordinator,” Tamme said. “We became a confident group that knew we could score on anybody in the SEC, and we had one of the best offenses in the country my senior year.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky star Jacob Tamme is not going to second-guess what UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart has done or what direction he’ll go with his coaching search. Barnhart was the one who asked Tamme to hold off on his college decision after Guy Morriss, who had revoked a scholarship offer to Tamme, left UK for Baylor. As soon as Rich Brooks was hired, Tamme had a scholarship offer that he quickly accepted.
“I believe Mitch is the best AD in America. I know from my time at UK that he genuinely cares for the student athletes — their education and giving them an opportunity to compete for championships,” Tamme, now a tight end with the Denver Broncos, said. “So I trust he will make a great decision.
“I also think we have a lot of good young players that are currently getting experience, which is a positive. So I don’t have many thoughts on the ‘search.’ But I do believe that the future of the program is bright.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Wesley Woodyard is gearing up for a bigger role than ever with the Denver Broncos.
The fifth-year pro is coming off a year in which he piled up career highs in tackles (97), starts (seven) and forced fumbles (two) while replacing middle linebacker Joe Mays on passing downs and making spot starts at weakside linebacker for D.J. Williams.
Williams, who led the team in tackles after missing the first three games with an elbow injury, is facing a six-game drug suspension to start the 2012 season. He also has an Aug. 15 trial on misdemeanor driving under the influence and traffic charges.
Williams’ troubles might give Woodyard the chance to have much more than a rotational role in Denver’s 4-3 scheme next season, especially early on.
Woodyard, whose role has increased every year in Denver since the Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky in 2008, parlayed his outstanding 2011 season into a two-year, $3.5 million contract over the winter.
That may not be starter’s money in today’s NFL, but Woodyard indicated Tuesday after the team’s latest voluntary practice that he has his sights set on joining Mays and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller atop the Broncos’ depth chart at linebacker.
“Everybody wants to be a starter,” Woodyard said. “This year it’s going to be an open competition once we start summer camp, so I feel like my options are open everywhere that I would have (gone).”
Woodyard was the starter on the weak side during an open practice Monday, when Williams was absent from the start of four days of voluntary on-field workouts.
Woodyard said Williams’ off-field issues aren’t something that he ponders.
“No, man, we don’t talk about that. That’s his issues. I’ve just got to be ready whenever I’m called to be on the field,” Woodyard said. “It’s out of my hands. I’ve just got to be the next guy to step up and if I get a chance to compete for that starting spot during summer camp, I’m definitely going to do it.”
Williams is suing the NFL, seeking to overturn his drug suspension without pay. The lawsuit contends that the league violated protocol in collecting urine samples.
Woodyard said he wasn’t bothered when the Broncos drafted another quick and undersized weakside linebacker out of Kentucky in Danny Trevathan in April.
“It’s a great opportunity for both of us,” Woodyard said. “We’ll both compete and I know what type of player he is, coming from a school that I went to. I know he’s going to give it his all every time he steps on the field, so it’s an honor to have a guy like him on our team.”
Woodyard said he’s been counseling Trevathan for years, so it’s not like he’s suddenly sharing the tricks of the trade with him during these offseason workouts.
“He’s kind of like my little brother, but I’m trying to give him the chance to learn the things he can do and that he can’t do before I go in there and try to tell him everything,” Woodyard said. “So, he’s coming along well. I think he’s had like two interceptions throughout these OTAs, so he’s doing pretty good.”