Vernon Davis vanishes in Denver Broncos' offense

Broncos tight end Vernon Davis might be one of the few players not enjoying his team's ride to the AFC Championship Game.

Davis played 11 snaps in the two previous games heading into Sunday's matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played just one offensive snap in the Broncos' 23-16 win. He has not logged an official target since Dec. 20, when he had one catch for five yards against the Steelers.

Perhaps this goes back to a play during that Broncos loss, when Davis appeared to short-arm an attempted catch due to a hard-charging safety (not that we can blame him if he did). Davis' name was dragged through the mud that week by a few analysts suggesting that the two-time Pro Bowler had more to give on certain plays. There were also a few notable drops during the final stretch of the season.

In fairness to Davis, he was thrust into a new offense mid-season and his original starting quarterback got injured. Davis recently told The Denver Post that he was thinking too much about the play and the process, which is why his production suffered. That feeling of general uncertainty can cause a player to look over his shoulder more than anything.

He's not exactly happy about this, either.

"It's been tough. I'm not going to lie to you, it's been tough," Davis said. "Whenever you run into things that might be a struggle or don't go your way, it's just an obstacle. The best players and greatest players, they keep on going."

The Broncos' decision to essentially phase him out of the offense has to be bittersweet. There is nothing more painful for fans than watching a team force feed a recently traded player. Percy Harvin's first game as a member of the Jets comes to mind. But the Broncos also can't afford to spend the time that it really takes to integrate a player who has had some very productive seasons in the NFL.

Davis' potential is well-known, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be working out. John Elway won't get crushed because, for an exchange of late-round picks, the reward was much higher -- even if Elway cannot reap the benefits.

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