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Is TE Jeff Heuerman Ready To Cash In On His Denver Broncos Debut In Cincinnati?

Jeff Heuerman's NFL debut will come in Week 3, with the Broncos on the road in Cincinnati. After missing the first 18 games of his career, is Heuerman finally ready to give the Broncos a return on their draft investment?

The Denver Broncos could be without versatile tight end Virgil Green this week for their road contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even if Green is able to suit up and gut out his calf injury, theoretically, he would be limited in his effectiveness.

The player who would stand to benefit most from the injury would be 2015 third round pick Jeff Heuerman. Coincidentally, Heuerman will be making his season and NFL debut in front of his friends and family in his adoptive state of Ohio.

Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Heuerman talked about his excitement at the prospect of playing in front of friendly faces. “It’s pretty cool," Heuerman said. "I have a lot of people coming to the game. I’ve actually played in that stadium. We played a spring game there a couple of years ago, my sophomore or junior year spring game and it was good.”

Count Coach Gary Kubiak as one of many who are excited to see the former standout at Ohio State finally suit up in a NFL game.

“I’m confident in Jeff," Kubiak said. "He’s a good kid. He works hard and he’s very bright. He knows what he’s doing. This happens sometimes to young players. It seems like every time they take a step forward; they take two back. I know it’s been tough on him, but I’ve seen guys jump out of it and go. I’m ready for Jeff to do that. I think the whole team is excited for him to come be a part of us. He’s been working hard and hopefully we’re good and healthy this week and ready to go.”

Big things were expected out of Heuerman when John Elway nabbed him in the NFL Draft, only to lose him early in rookie camp before Heuerman saw any game action. Both Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have talked about how the Denver offense was counting on Heuerman to be a major contributor last season, but because of his injury, were forced them to scale back some of the playbook.

In the first depth chart released, Heuerman was surprisingly named as a co-starter with Green, despite being hobbled by hamstring troubles. Heuerman would continue to be limited in the preseason and despite being medically fit to suit up, was a gameday inactive for last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The onus will now be on Heuerman to move past his injury problems and be a productive member of the team. With Green’s availability up in the air, the bulk of the tight end snaps figure to fall on the shoulder on Heuerman and veteran John Phillips. Phillips is the more experienced of the two and is a capable blocker and receiver, but has nowhere near the athleticism that Heuerman possesses. Quarterback Trevor Siemian has leaned on Green early on and the big tight end has responded by catching every target that's gone his way.

If Heuerman can fill that role as the security blanket for Siemian, it will go a long way toward keeping the offense moving, as well as being another target that Siemian can use in the red zone—an area the offense has struggled in through two games.

After sitting for a whole season, Heuerman is champing at the bit to finally get his NFL career started.

“Yes, it’s about time," Heuerman said. "I do need to get in there and make some plays and help this team win on the road this weekend. I’m excited to get out there with the guys, run around and get back to playing."

Heuerman will be one of the players that bears watching this Sunday. A physical talent that is blessed with speed and size for the position, an impactful performance could help him parlay more playing time. But first, he has to cash in on that upside and have a good, injury-free showing on Sunday. 

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

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