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Broncos vs. Patriots: Expect Denver's tight ends to play prominent role Sunday

Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme have almost combined for more production than the entire 2011 Broncos tight end corps.

Justin Edmonds - Getty Images

With Virgil Green returning to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension, the Broncos have another tight end to add to what has become a useful unit for Peyton Manning so far in 2012. The combination of Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen, each in their first season with the Broncos, have been a pair that Manning has looked to often so far in 2012.

Tamme has 15 receptions for 125 yards with a touchdown, while Dreessen has seven receptions for 75 yards with two touchdowns. With just 30 receptions combined by the tight end corps in 2011, the increased emphasis has been obvious and will likely to continue to be so against the Patriots on Sunday.

The Patriots heavily influenced the trend toward athletic tight ends being used often as they have had plenty of success targeting Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. However, their impact is still difficult to predict as each player missed Wednesday practice with injuries, but returned to the field on Thursday on a limited basis.