As Greg Dulcich heads to injured reserve, it’s wise to temper hopes

Aug 30, 2022, 7:47 PM | Updated: 7:48 pm

Greg Dulcich...

(Photo by Andrew Mason /

(Photo by Andrew Mason /

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — On the surface, it would seem that third-round tight end Greg Dulcich has lost — and will lose — too much time to be any kind of factor in his rookie season.

For starters, he plays a position that is notoriously tough to master as a rookie. Playing tight end effectively in the outside-zone scheme requires learning three massive tasks: that of a run blocker, a pass protector and a pass catcher. So, take the typical tornado of information tossed at a rookie and triple it.

Then came the hamstring injury that he suffered in OTAs. It sidelined him for nearly all of training camp. He didn’t play a preseason snap.

And this week, he will go on injured reserve, which means he will miss at least the first four games.

“Hamstrings are strange,” Broncos general manager George Paton said. “He was really close to coming back then he tweaked it. I wouldn’t call it a setback, but he just can’t get over that hump.”

And now, even though Paton said Dulcich believes he can return soon, the GM erected a stop sign on Paton.

“We want to protect him from himself, so, we’re going to do that,” Paton said. “We’re going to take the conservative route, which we like to do with these types of injuries.”

But Paton still seems confident he can extract something from Dulcich as a rookie.

“He’s going to help us win a lot of football games this year. He’ll be ready after those four games are up,” Paton said. “In the meantime, he’ll be training, and you guys see him working.”

One pulls out the binoculars during training camp and sees Dulcich on the north rehab field at UCHealth Training Center. One cannot question the work the rookie puts in.

But it’s not a matter of the work he’s done — or what he does in the coming weeks. It’s what he can’t do — and what he hasn’t been able to do.

Dulcich had only a handful of team-period repetitions in the preseason, and then the hamstring forced him to retreat. He won’t be able to get any practice repetitions while he is on injured reserve. He can watch practice and get mental reps, but those will only go so far given how much he must learn.

But even if Dulcich’s hamstring allows him to play, he’s fighting history.

Simply put, third-round tight ends generally don’t do much as rookies.

In fact, since 2000, third-round rookie tight ends have averaged 13.2 receptions, 144.3 yards and 1.1 touchdowns while playing in an average of 12 games. Even when extrapolating the numbers to a 17-game season, those averages become 18.3 receptions, 198.7 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per 17 games.

Just three of 52 Round 3 tight ends who played as rookies since 2000 broke 500 yards. A majority — 27 of 52 — didn’t even hit 100 receiving yards.

Eventually, Dulcich could live up to Paton’s proclamation Tuesday — that the UCLA product will be “a splash kind of guy.”

But that splash wasn’t likely to come with Dulcich even before the hamstring injury.

Optimism is fine, but with Dulcich, it’s best to be pragmatic and realistic. Any positive contribution the Broncos get from him this season will now be a bonus.

Dulcich needs time, and that’s OK. But the reality is that his rookie season will likely be about learning and healing.



Broncos defense Alex Singleton...

Cecil Lammey

The QB didn’t matter on Sunday, the Broncos defense is too legit

This Broncos defense can handle any offense left in front of them; if they make it, we’ll see what they can do in the playoffs

11 hours ago

Courtland Sutton...

Cecil Lammey

Broncos WR Courtland Sutton does it again in another Denver win

With the Broncos offense sputtering, Courtland Sutton caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to make the score 17-0

11 hours ago


Andrew Mason

From the ashes of 1-5 and 70-20, the Broncos rose — and are now legitimate contenders

From the ashes of 70-20 and a 1-5 start, the Broncos remade themselves — and now appear on a collision course with the playoffs.

15 hours ago

Denver Broncos defense...

James Merilatt

The Broncos are going to make the playoffs thanks to their defense

After a dominant performance in L.A., the Broncos are going to end their playoff drought, and they're going to do it because of their defense

17 hours ago

Russell Wilson...

Jake Shapiro

How Russell Wilson’s halftime speech to a coach helped turn the Broncos season around

Russell Wilson revealed on Sunday after the Broncos 24-7 win that way back in Week 4 he pulled a coach aside for a pep talk

17 hours ago

Sean Payton...

Will Petersen

After Broncos win, Sean Payton staying the course regarding playoffs

"You take a peek at what the AFC did today, then let's go, it's on to the next challenge," Broncos head coach Sean Payton said

18 hours ago

As Greg Dulcich heads to injured reserve, it’s wise to temper hopes