Battling chronic hamstring trouble over his first two NFL seasons, Greg Dulcich has landed on IR four times due to this particular issue. While this has happened twice in 2023, the Broncos have not given up on the pass-catching tight end contributing this season.
Dulcich is back at Broncos practice Wednesday; the team designated the second-year tight end to return from IR, per the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. Dulcich has been out since aggravating his hamstring injury in Week 6. The UCLA product initially suffered the injury in Week 1. Teams can activate a player from IR twice in one season, but both moves go toward the team’s activation total. The Broncos have five IR activations left.
While the Broncos have turned their season around by winning six out of their past seven games, they have not received much production from their tight end position. Adam Trautman‘s precise placement on a touchdown against the Browns notwithstanding, no Denver tight end has surpassed 150 receiving yards this year. In just 10 games last year, Dulcich posted 411.
The Broncos placed Dulcich on IR twice as a rookie, stashing him on the injured list to start his career and moving him back to close the season. While Dulcich stood out on a broken offense in between, his hamstring issues followed him to Year 2. The UCLA product hit IR after Week 1, and after only 11 snaps against the Chiefs in Week 6, he needed to be shut down once again. Dulcich has already missed 17 games through two seasons.
During the Broncos’ first draft after trading a bounty for Russell Wilson, they selected Dulcich with their second pick. Last year’s No. 80 overall choice scored twice and averaged 12.5 yards per catch in 2022, but injuries have obviously marred his career. With Sean Payton having not been in Denver when the team chose Dulcich, the young pass catcher is not off to a good start with the new HC. Payton traded for ex-Saint Trautman during the draft.
Trautman is playing on an expiring contract, and Dulcich has spent much his NFL time rehabbing. These circumstances will likely lead the Broncos making a notable investment in a tight end during Payton’s second offseason in charge. But Dulcich staying healthy to close this season would help his cause. The Broncos have three weeks from today to activate the 6-foot-4 talent.
Beyond Dulcich and safety Caden Sterns, the Broncos have gone through the season healthier than in recent years. The team did lose one of its top edge rushers against the Chargers, but Payton noted Wednesday (via Denver7’s Troy Renck) Nik Bonitto is not a candidate to land on IR. The 2022 second-round pick suffered a knee injury in Week 14.