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Overcoming injury, Virgil Green shines in Broncos training camp Thursday

Coach Gary Kubiak called the tight end "red-hot"
Overcoming injury, Virgil Green shines in Broncos training camp Thursday
Posted at 6:31 PM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 20:57:18-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Virgil Green answers to the nickname Hulk. His upper body strength and biceps draw stares. But last season Green spent more time turning red than green, his performance leading to anger and frustration because of a dislocated right ring finger. 

In a one-on-one interview with Denver7 on Thursday, Green admitted his finger compromised him, and the fix was more difficult than expected. He said he underwent multiple surgeries, calling it a "full reconstruction" with a graft from his wrist.

"The ligaments were torn. The tendon was messed up. It was a much bigger deal," Green said. "It's about 90 to 95 percent. It will never have full mobility. But it's way better than last year, when every time I touched somebody it popped out, and just kept getting worse."

The surgery and recovery robbed Green of valuable team reps in OTAs. With Jeff Heuerman limited by a hamstring injury in June, coach Gary Kubiak entered training camp worried about the tight end position. Green helped soothe concerns with a huge effort in the Broncos' Thursday rebound practice after Kubiak criticized their lack of effort and energy on Wednesday.

"Virgil was the red-hot player out there today. What a day he had," Kubiak said. "We have a program we are working on with Virgil. We are trying to keep him healthier than we have in the past. I think he's responded."

Green caught 12 passes for 173 yards last season — career-highs but disappointing. He hoped to emerge as a consistent receiving threat, but the Broncos’ tight ends struggled overall, and Owen Daniels became a favorite target of Peyton Manning. The Broncos acquired Vernon Davis in October, which also left Green minimized. Green believes he can help the Broncos in the passing game. He starred Thursday.

In the two-minute drill, quarterback Mark Sanchez connected with Green on a 12-yard scoring strike at the goal line. Green snared the pass despite being blanketed by safety T.J. Ward. Moments later, Green made a leaping catch over linebacker Corey Nelson, hauling in Trevor Siemian's pass for a touchdown. Green came down awkwardly on his left hip, but remained at practice.

"I just live in the moment. I don't think about the past," Green said. "I always knew I had this ability."

Green's value must be layered. He knows he can improve on his blocking, where he excelled early in his career. Green enjoys the Hulk nickname, which becomes more fitting when he can throw opponents and impose his will at the line of scrimmage.

"Once my finger is 100 percent. I think I will be very prolific in the run game. I couldn't grab like I wanted to," Green said. "It's going to get better. It absolutely does make me feel great to have this kind of day. But what would make me feel really great is if I went out tomorrow and did it again. For me, it's about consistency."

QB Shuffle

The quarterback position continues to feature a mixed bag. Mark Sanchez is considered the slight front-runner over Trevor Siemian, but separated himself enough to force a choice. Kubiak admitted he’s looking forward to games to accelerate the process.

“Guys have good days and rough days. It’s very, very competitive,” Kubiak said. “I want to watch them play a week from today (at Chicago). I am going to put a number of throws on each one of them. That’s going to have a lot to do with the decision-making time to be honest.”

Footnotes

Cornerbacks Chris Harris (hamstring) and Kayvon Webster (thigh), right guard Ty Sambrailo (hyperextended right elbow), left guard Max Garcia (ankle), tight end John Phillips (ankle) and tackle Robert Myers did not practice. Harris, Webster and Garcia could participate on Thursday. With the guards out, the door opened for others. Connor McGovern, James Ferentz and Michael Schofield received reps on first time. “The more versatile I am, the more it can help,” Schofield said. Schofield experienced a “roller-coaster” season a year ago. But he returned to camp stronger. He weighs 305 pounds, roughly 10 more than last year and 20 more than his rookie season. … Rookie cornerback Lorenzo Doss continues to stand out. He perfectly executed plays on punt coverage. … The Broncos waived receiver Marlon Brown, who was dealing with a back injury, and signed former CSU offensive lineman Sam Carlson.