In a bit of a surprising move, the Broncos have swapped tight ends. According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (via Twitter), the team has waived/injured A.J. Derby and promoted Austin Traylor from the practice squad. Derby had been struggling with a shoulder injury and wasn’t expected to play this weekend.
Derby, a 2015 sixth-round pick, was traded from the Patriots to the Broncos last season in exchange for a fifth-round pick. After a lackluster start to his tenure in Denver, the 26-year-old was beginning to come into his own in 2017. In nine games (one start), he had hauled in 19 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns, tops among Broncos tight ends.
Traylor has yet to play in an NFL game, although the 24-year-old is listed at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. Klis tweets that while Derby is the superior receiver, Traylor “is more physical.” Ultimately, the reporter believes this move is another attempt by general manager John Elway to send a “strong message” to his team. For the time being, Traylor will slot in behind Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman on the depth chart, and he should also get some reps on special teams.
“He’s done a great job,” said offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (via Jon Heath of Broncos Wire). “The role that he’s been in up to this point in time in the season, he just does what we ask him to do whether it’s in the kicking game, whether it’s scout team for the defense or whether he steps in and took plenty of reps on offense. He just does it one way. He works extremely hard, so I’m very pleased with where he’s at.”
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