BRONCOS

Despite injuries, Greg Dulcich remains in Broncos plans

Jan 5, 2024, 1:36 PM | Updated: 1:55 pm

Greg Dulcich...

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The frustrating, injury-choked season of Greg Dulcich ended quietly this week.

For the second-year tight end in whom hopes were grand heading into the season, the final blow arrived with a foot injury suffered in practice on Dec. 13. That was the first practice Dulcich saw since he re-injured his hamstring Oct. 12 at Kansas City. And at that point, a 62-day wait was for naught.

While Broncos coach Sean Payton expressed optimism that Dulcich could return before the end of the season, reality dictated otherwise. And when Dulcich wasn’t on the practice field Wednesday, his 21-day window for a potential return to the roster was over — and with it, any hopes tha the 2022 third-round pick would play more than two games this season.

Thus far in Dulcich’s frustrating career, the UCLA product has 22 games on injured reserve to his name. He has just 12 games played on his ledger — 10 in his rookie season.

If there is any positive for Dulcich’s status as this season ends, it’s that this season-ending absence — four games after he suffered the practice injury — isn’t due to the hamstring that has plagued him since he injured it during his first round of organized team activities in the spring of 2022.

“The trainers say that some of the stuff that he’s been dealing with is new, so, you’re kind of hoping it was just bad luck,” Broncos offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said after practice Thursday.

“But he’s got a great skill set, and it’s something that if — and we expect he can — stay healthy, he’ll be a big part of what we do. I mean, he can run, he can catch, and be a valuable piece for us when he’s playing.”

Indeed, the Broncos haven’t found anyone analogous to Greg Dulcich. They’ve given former practice-squad tight end Lucas Krull extensive run in recent weeks, but his production remains inconsistent. Adam Trautman and Chris Manhertz factor more as blockers, and while both have value, neither has proven to be a consistent down-the-seam intermediate threat as Dulcich showed flashes of becoming during the 10 games in which he played as a rookie.

What’s more, the Broncos’ limited draft capital and looming salary-cap crunch could make it hard to find an apples-to-apples replacement for Dulcich in the draft or free agency. It’s not altogether implausible that the Broncos could run it back with the current tight-end room — especially if they believe Dulcich’s hamstring problems are in his rear-view mirror.

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