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Broncos TE Virgil Green Is Poised For A Breakout 2016 Season

After serving five seasons as Denver's blocking tight end, Virgil Green has earned a seat at the table in the passing game. We've seen him flash in the preseason thus far. Could this be the year Green finally breaks out as a receiver?

Tight end Virgil Green has always been a darkhorse during his time in Denver. It doesn’t help that he was in the same draft class as the now departed Julius Thomas, or that the team thinks so highly of Green's blocking that they keep bringing in players like Owen Daniels and Jeff Heuerman to be the pass-catcher to pair with him.

Despite this, Green has shown that he is capable of being a throwback, three-down tight end. The sixth-year player has shown to be a reliable and steady blocker but with each time he is targeted and the more the Gary Kubiak offense is implemented, Green is beginning to stand out as a factor in the passing game as well. 

Kubiak was asked about the improvements he has seen in Green's game recently. “Virgil has done a really good job," Kubiak said. "He’s taken advantage of an opportunity. I can’t speak for when I wasn’t here, but Virgil was always been a two type of guy. He was for us last year with Owen here. We bring Jeff in, and we think Jeff has a bright future here, but Virgil just keeps plugging and making plays. We’re very excited about him taking advantage of an opportunity right now.”

Green himself has been vocal about not seeing as many footballs thrown his way, despite re-signing with the Broncos last year under the impression that he would have a bigger role in the offense. Now in year two of his deal, Green is seeing how he can contribute to this year’s team,

“I think that the offense just helps out everything with us doing a lot of what we do out of run formations," Green said recently. "There is a threat of us running the ball and passing the ball. You never know what we're going to do. For me, that helps out tremendously. I look at myself as a traditional 'Y' tight end. I do everything at the line of scrimmage. That helps out things in the long run.”

Instead of focusing on the plays and situations he can’t control, Green is embracing a different mindset this year. The big tight end is now focusing on making the plays when called upon and letting the coaches figure out where he can help the team win. 

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“I'm getting open and catching the ball," Green said. "The quarterbacks have faith in me. They understand that I know the offense and I know what's going on. I'm just taking advantage of opportunities. A coach once told me that you can't be afraid to be great and that's how I'm going in to this year. I'm not afraid to be great. Whatever I have to do to contribute to the team winning, that's what I'll do.”

Virgil Green is capable of being an impact tight end this season. His success early in the preseason thus far mirrors the similar paths that other once unheralded Broncos, like Chris Harris, Jr. and C.J. Anderson have faced, having to prove themselves in limited action early on in their respective careers.

For Harris, this was manifested by him having to prove his mettle on special teams and as the nickel back on the defense. In the case of Anderson, his opportunity came on a check-down reception in 2014 that would earn him more time on the offense.

Green has always had the pure physical talents to be a very good player in the league and for the Broncos. After being targeted seven times in what amounts to just one quarter of work in the first two preseason games, Green has already hauled in all seven for 83 yards.

Check Green out in the play below, converting a tough third down in the opening preseason game.

To put that in perspective, if this were the regular season, Green would already be more than halfway to career highs in both catches and yards.

Green is slowly proving why he should be a factor among the skill-position players for the 2016 Broncos and adding another wrinkle to an offense that already includes Pro Bowlers Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and C.J .Anderson.

It is a pleasant surprise to see Green breaking tackles and gaining extra yards going over the middle, while still being an excellent protector on the wing. No matter who ends up being the starting quarterback this season, they will have NO. 85 as a security blanket, both as a blocker and a receiver over the middle

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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