Broncos tight end Nick Vannett wants to be more than just blocker – The Denver Post

When the Broncos signed Nick Vannett in March, the projection was he would serve as the primary blocking tight end. Noah Fant’s presence and Vannett’s track record — 61 catches in 55 games — made it an easy guess.

But we may have been half-correct.

Through two weeks of training camp practices, Vannett has often lined up in a three-point stance next to right tackle Elijah Wilkinson or left tackle Garett Bolles. But Vannett has looked comfortable as a downfield receiver, too, which should be another wrinkle for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to utilize.

Vannett isn’t going to be a 30- or 40-catch guy — there are too many other players to get touches, led by Fant, receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy and running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. But he has 12, 29 and 17 catches the past three years so his sweet spot might be 20 to 25 receptions.

“I want be as involved as I can,” said Vannett, who missed three full practices (concussion protocol) earlier this month. “The thing about me is I’ve always had great hands. I’ve always been able to make contested catches and catches anywhere outside my frame.

“Each year, I’ve gotten better with my quickness, gotten better at running routes, I’ve added some speed and I think this year is by far the best I’ve felt. I feel like more of a receiver and more athletic (to) where I can run these routes the other guys can run.”

No officials, no calls. One departure during training camp is not having officials present. For most practices, including the regular season, local high school and college officials attend practice and an NFL crew would also make a stop in Denver to go over the new rules.

This year, though, it’s a free-for-all. Take one play on Friday as an example. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam made a touchdown catch against cornerback Duke Dawson.

One “official” — Dawson — made the pushing-off gesture to signal offensive pass interference. Another “official” -— receiver Courtland Sutton on the sideline — signaled good catch and no call.

“We do critique them (on fouls),” coach Vic Fangio said. “When we think there’s a penalty, we point it out. The NFL is not sending out the officials like they usually do and to bring in college or high school officials, they (would) have to go through (COVID-19) testing and take up spots on your tiers (of access). But we’re trying to do a good job as coaches. A lot of coaches think they’re officials anyway.”

Decisions, decisions. The Broncos play two weeks from Monday night and still have to declare their decisions at starting center and No. 3 cornerback just to name two spots.

“In a normal training camp, by the third preseason game (you want a decision),” Fangio said. “In this training camp, I think we need to by the week of the first game when we start practicing. We’ll look for it to happen before then, but if not, we’ll let it play out.”

The Broncos’ first practice with their 53-man roster can be Sept. 7.

Last year entering the final preseason game, the Broncos’ only lineup decisions were injury-related — inside linebacker Todd Davis (calf) and cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) were out, but the other 20 spots were locked in.

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