Denver Broncos third-round pick Heuerman tears ACL, out for season
By Johnny Hart
Just one day into his professional career, Denver Broncos rookie tight end Jeff Heuerman’s season is over.
The club’s third-round pick tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Saturday afternoon during Day 2 of Denver’s rookie minicamp and is expected to miss the entire 2015 campaign.
Heuerman had been participating in a non-contact special teams drill when the injury occurred. Running full speed down field, he stopped, planted and his knee gave way.
He was carted off the field of the team’s indoor facility, and an MRI Saturday afternoon confirmed the tear.
“I feel terrible for Jeff, and this is an unfortunate situation,” said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. “Jeff was going to be a big part of our team this year, and he’s still going to be a big part of our team and organization in the future.
“He’ll get well and be with us as part of this team throughout his rehabilitation.”
Heuerman had made a splash on Day 1 of rookie minicamp with a one-handed grab during one-on-one drills.
Kubiak called Heuerman’s future in the NFL “bright” Friday, saying the club would be “expecting a lot out of him” in his rookie season.
“The quicker we can get him going, the more he helps us with O.D. (tight end Owen Daniels) and with our group that we have with Virgil (Green) and (others),” Kubiak said.
The loss of Heuerman deals a blow to a tight end group rebuilding after the departure of veteran Jacob Tamme and Pro Bowler Julius Thomas this offseason.
Denver inked Green to a three-year deal this offseason while adding both Daniels and James Casey in free agency as possible replacements for Thomas and Tamme. With Heuerman out, the Broncos will need to rely more heavily on the trio, along with 2014 practice squad player Dominique Jones and college free agent signee Joe Don Duncan.
Broncos tap CSU's Sambrailo to compete for starting role at right tackle
By Johnny Hart
However you pronounce it, just call Ty Sambrailo a Denver Bronco.
Even general manager John Elway admitted to tripping over the former Colorado State Ram’s last name –– officially confirmed as “sam-BRY-loh.”
“It was pronounced differently, so we learned that today,” Elway said with a chuckle during his nightly draft wrap up presser Friday night.
But as the pronunciation debate raged on at the Broncos’ Dove Valley headquarters, the club looked not so far north to Fort Collins to fill one of its positions of need.
And indications have Sambrailo not far off from competing for a starting job at right tackle next season
Said Elway: “Sambrailo is a guy that we’re really excited to get, a guy that can come in and compete at the right tackle position right away.”
And along with his athleticism and toughness, Elway championed Sambrailo’s versatility, saying the local talent can “play all of the spots” on the offensive line.
Sambrailo mostly played tackle for the Rams, earning first-team all-Mountain West Conference honors in 2014 as a senior.
But the local talent does have versatility on the line, having also played guard at CSU, which is something he credited with attractive Denver to him.
“I have some experiences at every position –– guard, tackle, left and right –– so I think (I’m) coming in with a pretty open on what they’re expecting, what they want,” Sambrailso said Friday in a conference call.
What head coach Gary Kubiak expects is for Sambrailo to compete at right tackle.
“He’ll come in and compete on the right,” Kubiak said.
What Elway wants is to harness that competition between Sambrailo and sophomore tackle Michael Schofield, whom the team selected in 95th overall (31st in the third round) in last year’s draft.
“The mentality that they both bring –– they’re both very competitive,” Elway said. “And I think that just makes you better as an offensive line because of the competition they can bring there.”
Elway also touted Sambrailo’s athleticism as what made him standout among a group of talented tackle prospects.
“We always like athletic guys,” Elway said. “… When they’re athletic like that, it makes them better players.”
Sambrailo comes from a line of athletes –– his, Mark, father a pole vaulter at Colorado, his grandfather, Bill, a football player at Santa Clara, and his sister, Kiersten, a volleyball player at Oregon State.
Much like his brother, Bill, who competed in the Junior Olympics, Ty was a champion skier. He won USSA titles for slalom, giant slalom and super G.
More importantly, perhaps, Sambrailo’s experience on the slopes translated to the gridiron.
“I think growing and ski racing, that forced me to teach myself to react quicker in terms of processing what I see and translating that to my feet,” Sambrailo said. “The ability to go down the ski slope and make judgments, kind of thinking on your feet. I wouldn’t say it helped me necessarily in football, but it kind of trained me to react to what I see a little bit quicker.”
During his senior season in Fort Collins, Sambrailo graded out above 90-percent in each of the games he played (11) with 60 knockdowns.
In 2014, CSU averaged 480.9 yards of total offense, breaking a single-season school record set the year previous.
Now, Sambrailo will be charged with protecting a quarterback who regularly has his teams among the top of the NFL in total offense –– Peyton Manning.
“I think protecting him and being a part of the offense is going to be an incredible experience, and I’m excited,” Sambrailo said.