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Opportunity knocks for Broncos TE Virgil Green

Julius Thomas is gone, and that gives Virgil Green the chance to become a jack of all trades in Denver's offense and one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Virgil Green was known as more of a pass-catching tight end than a good blocker when the Denver Broncos selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for Green, that was the same year they selected some guy out of Portland State by the name of Julius Thomas. It was Green who earned more playing time during their first two seasons in the league, but neither guy exploded onto the scene initially. Green had all of eight career receptions while Thomas had one going into their third season together.

In 2012, this guy by the name of Peyton Manning -- maybe you've heard of him -- showed up and said he wanted to play quarterback for the Broncos.

Thomas was the big recipient of the benefits of Manning's arrival, notching 108 receptions and 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Green had to carve out a different lane for himself in order to continue to push for playing time. So he decided to transform himself into a "blocking" tight end.

Or I should say a "pretty damned good blocking" tight end, that is.

Green was only able to snag 15 receptions in the last two seasons combined. He was still a vital part of the offense because blocking was never really Thomas' thing. It wasn't a huge role, but it was an important one all the same. And hey, every once in awhile, Green would still flash in the passing game.

Now that Thomas is gone, Green has a great opportunity to show that he can finally become the pass catching tight end most of us envisioned him as when he came out of college. Given his prowess as a blocker, there's a chance Green could be one of the better all-around tight ends in the league. That's a rarity these days as most guys can either catch passes or block well.

With such a big void to fill after Thomas' departure, Green is perfectly positioned to reap the benefits. I think it's safe to say that Green, provided he stays healthy, will easily best his career total of 23 receptions this season alone and be yet another weapon for Manning in the passing game.