It’s rare for a rookie to lead the way in the NFL world. But for the Denver Broncos, 22-year-old Greg Dolch appears to be doing just that.
Not only did the Broncos discover an offensive spur at a very good time, offensive coordinator Justin Otten believes they have found a player who has become the straw that stirs the drink.
He’s young and he doesn’t say much, but everyone looks at him and kind of sees his habits in practice. What can he or anyone else do in that unit or another unit to match? He’s been a really good addition, Otten said Thursday. For us “.
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Broncos GM George Paton was definitely on top of the rookie coming out of UCLA, so much so that he invested the 80th overall pick in Dulcich. After missing all of training camp and the first five regular season games with a hamstring injury, Dulcich suddenly getting an average of 60 yards per game is a lucrative return.
Some of the compelling highlights Dulcich racked up in college required a quick YouTube search to confirm his massive potential. While the Broncos knew they were going to get speed and hands from the young Californian, his willingness to practice his physicality, and learn his craft, came as a welcome surprise to Outten.
“Watching the college tape come out, you can see the explosion and you can see the tools he has,” Otten said. “What impressed me most was just the overall tight end and the ability to do it all — the ability to line up in certain spots, the ability to get your hands on a 300-pound guy, block and stay on them. Those are the encouraging things I see with him.”
It’s not just Dulcich’s trainers. Quarterback Russell Wilson heaped the praises on the rookie who came off Denver’s Week 8 win in London.
“It was really special,” Wilson said. “When you first pitched him the first day — you know you’ve thrown as many footballs as you’ve thrown for as many years as you’ve thrown, you could say your first three pitches, well, he’s got it. There’s something to it.” He definitely has some strange ability.”
It speaks volumes about the kind of professional Dulcich has become, and that he sets an example for other more established professionals already. However, just as quickly as Dulcich rose the depth chart to prominence, former rookie Albert Okwuegbunam made a spectacular fumble down.
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However, the tantalizing prospect of reviving their other tight end to unleash a dangerous double-headed beast on Dulcich and Okwuegbunam is still intriguing for the Broncos.
Okwuegbunam received a just-in-time boost to his flagging career in Denver when Button admitted he was still in the team’s plans. Returning to the starting role requires a window of opportunity to swing with Okwuegbunam, but that may have arrived via an unfortunate Andrew Beck hamstring injury that will keep the tight end/linebacker out of a Sunday road tilt with the Tennessee Titans.
Coach Nathaniel Hackett certainly hasn’t forgotten Okwegbonam, but on Thursday he suggested the only way back to playing is through dedication and perseverance.
Hackett said: “Ultimately, this group is incredibly competitive. We’ve got five players there who are all capable of playing in this league and doing really well. I think he just has to keep getting better. Everyone is competing against each other in that room. It’s Friendly competition, but at the same time, we have to make our team better. He has to compete with these guys to get out on the field.”
Dulcich offers a compelling case study of how he took great strides toward becoming a full tight end. It’s an example that Okwuegbunam would be remiss to ignore, especially if the opportunity comes knocking on his door again.
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