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Fifteen players to watch at Broncos training camp -- 13. Jeff Heuerman

Posted Jul 14, 2017

Finally blessed with good health, the 2015 draft pick knows that he must attack this summer with urgency in an offense that will give him opportunities.

For many early-to-mid-round draft picks, the third season represents the fork-in-the-road moment of their professional careers.

That appears to be true for tight end Jeff Heuerman. But what this training camp also represents is the first time that the 2015 third-round pick has been at full strength heading into the start of the summer's work.

At this time two years ago, he was two months into his rehabilitation from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his rookie season during the team's rookie minicamp. In 2016, he was preparing for training camp after struggling with nagging injuries that limited him to mental repetitions during most of that year's organized team activities.

This year, there were no such issues. He took part in every practice. He made a series of solid catches down the seam from Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch during the four weeks of on-field work against the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses.

Better health helped him. A different training regimen, tailored to his age and his recovery from injuries, also aided his cause.

"The way you train when you’re 18, 19, 20 years old has got to change when you get to 24 or 25. I’m adjusting to that," he said last month. "Also, just knowing my body. I think after knee surgery like that, your body changes a little bit. You kind of just have to figure it out and get going from there."

Heuerman appears on track to solving that riddle, which has bedeviled him in a star-crossed career. If he does that, then his success becomes a matter of putting all the pieces together on the field.

He should have plenty of opportunities. Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy's scheme should see its quarterbacks deliver the ball more quickly, with a greater emphasis on short and inside targets.

That should generate more opportunities for the tight ends to have an impact as pass-catching targets than last year, when Broncos tight ends combined for 53 receptions. That was the second-lowest total in the league. It was also 24 catches below the league per-team average.

After two frustrating years, Heuerman has a chance to change that.

“Having knee surgery your rookie year, then coming back last year and being banged up, obviously, there is a lot that I need to get out there and want to show," Heuerman said.

"It’s going to be a good year. This offense is fun. It allows guys to play football. I’m just excited about that."

Jeff Heuerman