As Clark grappled with injuries the last two years, he had respectable per-game numbers, averaging 4.2 receptions for 41.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game. But when Tamme filled in for Clark, he averaged 5.4 receptions for 52.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game.
Tamme also caught a higher percentage of passes targeted to him when he started in the last two seasons (77.7) than Clark (60.2).
"I look forward to having an even larger role than what I've had in Indy," Tamme said. "As far as catches and all that stuff, that's great, I love doing it, I hope I have one hundred every year. But the main focus will be doing what's asked of me to win some ball games."
Tamme said the Broncos didn't reach out to him until after Manning was signed, underscoring the connection between him and Manning. But he is the only ex-Colts teammate to be added to the roster, and might be the only one after Jeff Saturday signed with the Packers and tight end Dallas Clark went unclaimed -- and would appear to be unnecessary in Denver, since the Broncos already have four tight ends, including two who were 2011 draft picks.
--It was just coincidence that two of the Broncos' free-agent pickups were alumni of nearby Colorado State, but quarterback Caleb Hanie and tight end Joel Dreessen share more than an alma mater; they played together for part of the 2004 season, when Hanie became CSU's starting quarterback midway through the season.
But being together in the huddle was just the start of their bond.
"When you're a freshman coming in, you remember that senior group because they picked on you a little bit and they also help you grow," Hanie said. "Those are the guys you look up to and Joel was one of those guys."
As Dreessen moved on to the NFL, he kept in touch with Hanie, who remained Colorado State's quarterback through the 2007 season before joining the Bears.
"We texted each other a couple of days ago and both are really pumped about hooking back up," Hanie said.
--Hanie went 0-4 as a starter for the Bears last season, but almost certainly would have guided Chicago to a Week 12 win over the Broncos if running back Marion Barber III had not run out of bounds with less than two minutes remaining and the Broncos out of timeouts.
Even after that misstep set up the Broncos for a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, Hanie led the Bears back into range for a game-winning overtime field goal before Barber fumbled.
But Hanie still emerged from his month of starts for an injured Jay Cutler winless -- and with a 41.8 passer rating. The dream of parlaying the starting opportunity into a first-team gig elsewhere evaporated, and now he enters a situation where he might not do much more than listen and take notes, given Manning's predilection for taking as many practice snaps as possible.
"Whatever (Manning) says, I'm going to take it in fully and write everything down that I can and just learn from him and learn how to prepare the way he does and try to see things the way he does," Hanie said.
--One massive question remains unanswered as April nears: what will the Broncos do about defensive tackle?
The current corps has just two players who started last year (Kevin Vickerson, four starts and Ryan McBean, three starts) and another potential starter, Ty Warren, missed 2011 with a torn triceps muscle and hasn't played a regular-season down since 2009 with New England.
Marcus Thomas, the longest-tenured defensive tackle on the roster, remains unsigned and still might return. But with Brodrick Bunkley off to New Orleans on a five-year, $25 million deal and the free-agent crop of defensive tackles looking thin, the Broncos appear likely to turn to the draft for long-term answers.
Short-term solutions might still come from the remaining free agents on the market, but none provide the kind of punch defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had from defensive tackles like Tyson Alualu, Terrance Knighton, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud during his eight-plus years as Jaguars head coach.
"It's a fluid process," Fox said.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"What was communicated to me is that I'm more of a complete tight end than what they have on the roster. I can block; I can catch. Basically, what was communicated to me is that they needed a player like me on the roster." -- Tight end Joel Dreessen
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.