Denver Broncos | News

A new, but old wrinkle: using a tackle at tight end

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Some mismatches are about speed. Others revolve around size.

And when you use a 310-pounder outside of the offensive tackle lining up as an eligible tight end, as the Broncos did with offensive tackle Paul Cornick on 21 snaps against the New York Jets, the linebacker's job of setting the edge just got more difficult.

Cornick is 55 pounds heavier than any of the Broncos' three listed tight ends: Julius Thomas, Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme.

"He's going to be a little stouter than a tight end, and we can make sure that an outside linebacker can't have an easy day as far as walking back the tight end," said Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase. "So putting him out there allowed us to make sure we were firm on that edge, give those running backs a little bit of breathing room."

During Cornick's snaps against the Jets, running backs Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson combined for 63 yards on 14 carries, a 4.5-yard average that exceeded the 4.17-yard pace they had when Cornick was not on the field.

Watch Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware race each other through pass rush drills after Terrance Knighton broke down the huddle with a "Gimme 98!" at Wednesday's practice.

"It kind of gives the defense a different look when you bring in that third tackle," said tight end Julius Thomas, who has lined up on the same play with Cornick 19 times this season. "You get a really good run-blocker, a guy that usually would be a tackle and now he's in the tight end spot, maybe going up against guys that aren't used to having to go up against tackles that much."

It's a new wrinkle with Cornick, but not for the Broncos, who made liberal use of a third tackle/eligible tight end in 2011. That season, Chris Clark saw 96 snaps up in the extra tackle/tight end spot.

The difference is that Clark was often used with two other tight ends; this happened 43 times. Just two of Cornick's 31 snaps -- which include two plays wiped out by penalties -- have come with two tight ends on the field.

Clark used the work to solidify a place on the roster, which led to his eventual promotion to starting left tackle after Ryan Clady's Lisfranc injury last year.

"That was a good first step for Chris, as well," Gase said. "We thought he really grew from that, just getting him into the game and getting him that feel, that live action. That's a good first step and then when he was called upon, he did a great job for us.

"So I expect the same from Cornick. If we get in a situation where he's in the game, I feel very confident in him."

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