Last week, brothers Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Eli Manning of the New York Giants went to Duke University to get in some early offseason work with their wide receivers. Each quarterback brought along his top three receivers.
The workouts seemed to be pretty uneventful. The elder Manning pranked Decker and praised Welker, Eli played with a reporter's hair during an interview, and the NFL Network raved that Peyton's velocity has improved since last season.
Oh, and at least one receiver had his feelings hurt.
Denver's Andre Caldwell, a 6'0", 190-pound sixth-year receiver from Florida, was not invited to the workouts, and he is taking it personally.
Attempts to reach Caldwell for further comment were unsuccessful.
Caldwell does not have much reason to be upset; both QBs took their top three receivers to the workouts and Andre "Bubba" Caldwell is Denver's fourth receiver. Last year, he almost won the slot job in training camp, but was beat out by 36-year-old veteran Brandon Stokley.
Stokley went on to catch 45 passes for 544 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Caldwell, used mainly on special teams, only had one catch for 18 yards. In Week 4, Caldwell took an end-around for 14 yards in a game against the Oakland Raiders, the high point of his season.
Going into 2013, Caldwell likely would have stepped into Stokley's role if the team hadn't signed Welker to handle the slot duties. Caldwell has become the odd man out in Denver's receiving corps, as Manning's favorite formation is a three-WR set—a formation the offense seemingly used more than any other last season.
Caldwell entered the NFL as a third-round pick (97th overall) with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. Since then, his career hasn't turned many heads.
His most productive season was in 2009, when he caught 51 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (three starts). In his career, Caldwell has 125 catches for 1,190 yards and six touchdowns. Last season alone, Welker, Thomas and Decker all amassed over 1,000 receiving yards each.
Caldwell probably won't have many fans on his side, as he hasn't done enough yet in the NFL to develop a large following. But maybe this will motivate him to the point of having a breakout season in 2013.
We're not holding our breath that that will happen. But don't tell that to Bubba.
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