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Old 08-10-2010, 02:44 PM   #1
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Default Broncos O-line starts with a big Q

Broncos O-line starts with a big Q

Denver has a lot of questions to answer upfront because of injuries, inexperience.
By Mike Klis

The Denver Post
Posted: 08/10/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Zane Beadles (68) and J.D. Walton figure to be key contributors for the Broncos this season as rookie offensive linemen. Beadles was drafted in the second round out of Utah, Walton in the third out of Baylor. (John Leyba, The Denver Post )Just before Kyle Orton gets the snap, a long line of question marks settles in before him.

From left to right, the Broncos' offensive front looks something like this:

?-?-?-?-?

Elvis Dumervil's chest that is to be surgically repaired today has been the root of so much "woe are the Broncos" circulating around Dove Valley team headquarters in recent days.

Dumervil is a one-man quarterback wrecking ball.

The offensive line is five men working together to protect their quarterback and open holes for the running back who will be healthy enough to play in the season opener Sept. 12 at Jacksonville.

And after right guard Chris Kuper wrenched his ankle last week, the Broncos now have a question mark of injury or youth at each of their five blocking positions.

"We just have to work harder than everybody else," right tackle Ryan Harris said. "We have to be willing to work harder than the defensive lines that are put together. We have to be able to work harder than anybody else on the offense. Because it all starts with us, run or pass."

Ryan Clady's false step on a basketball court created a large question mark at left tackle. Rookies will start at left guard and center. Question mark, question mark.

Harris is coming off toe surgery that forced him to miss the second half of last season. But he's been back a while, so only a small question mark there.

Kuper didn't take long to go from the offensive line's best young prospect to highest-paid mainstay, but there seemed to be no concern at right guard. None at all, until Kuper followed seemingly half the roster into the trainer's room.

One possible answer to all of these offensive line question marks was proposed to Orton, the Broncos' starting quarterback. How about if Orton becomes more mobile this year? He doesn't need to go Michael Vick or Tim Tebow, anything like that. But maybe Orton can slide in the pocket here, scoot for a couple of yards there.

"Their job's to block. My job's to throw," Orton said.

So much for that thought. The offensive line, it seems, will have to ease concern on its own. "They'll get it figured out," Orton said.

As a group, the offensive linemen understand why they are widely considered the Broncos' chief worry heading into the 2010 season. They don't share this fear, but they know there is nothing they can say unless it's in the form of communication among themselves that can lower the stress level among the masses.

Between injury and youth, there is mystery as to how well the offensive line will keep Orton clean, or create running room for Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and LenDale White, not to raise more question marks.

If they were sensitive sorts, and not a rough, tough breed, Broncos blockers might deem it unfair for anyone outside Dove Valley to express so much angst. Nobody ever watches the offensive line anyway. Why pay attention now?

"It's early," Kuper said. "I haven't been in pads since January, and we're all just knocking the rust off. It's a battle, but we're working at it to get better every day. We've got a good defense we play against every day and that's going to help us."

Truth is, the people in Denver who really watch football inside and out, up front to way back at safety, on film every day from inside the team's headquarters are more excited than troubled about the

Post Poll -- Pop or puff?


Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is facing an injury dilemma. Should the team keep pushing in pads and risk injury? Or pull back and take it easy?
Always play hard: This is pro football, brotha. The NFL is for hard knocks. Get used to it.
Take it easy: Who cares about the preseason? Get ready for when it counts. Better to be healthy.
East coast toughness? Wha'?! The Broncos are plenty tough. No need to copy other teams.


Broncos' offensive line this year.

This franchise has moved on from its famed zone-blocking scheme. While great for the one-cut runner between the 20-yard lines, the smaller, nimbler linemen weren't much good near the goal line or in third-and-short in recent years.

The temporary replacements for the 325-pound Clady are Tyler Polumbus, an eight-game starter at right tackle last year who is up to 312 pounds this year, and D'Anthony Batiste, who took his 314 pounds to the first-team offense for the first time last week.

Zane Beadles, a rookie left guard, and rookie center J.D. Walton each weigh 305 pounds. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels decided he'd rather have big and strong kids than the grizzled likes of Casey Wiegmann and Ben Hamilton, neither of whom could crack 290 if they lived on a steady daily diet of spaghetti at midnight.

"They're young guys, so they're going to make their mistakes," Dumervil said of Beadles and Walton. "But they both have got that junkyard dog in them. That's a good thing. As long as you've got some dog in you, you can coach that other stuff."

Kuper, a four-year starter, is listed at 303 pounds but there's no telling how much he weighs now that he's carrying around a fresh $28 million contract.

Harris, at 300 pounds, is the lightest of the 15 offensive linemen on the camp roster. Let that crush the consciousness one more time 300 pounds and the smallest of the bunch.

Missing from this training camp are the classic, all-pro confrontations between Clady and Dumervil.

"We all know what Ryan can do," Polumbus said. "But we've got five guys out there trying to work together. Who's lining up come Jacksonville, who knows?"

Clady should be there. The rehab on his surgically repaired left knee is coming along well.

Which leads to one last question regarding the offensive line: If Clady were here taking on Dumervil in camp, would there be so much concern? Yes, Beadles and Walton are rookies, but in 2005 the New England Patriots won the AFC East with McDaniels as their rookie offensive coordinator and Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur as starting rookie offensive linemen.

"Think about Ryan coming back, and you have Kupe and Harris on the other side," McDaniels said. "Yeah, we may have youth at left guard and center, but the snaps they're going to get between now and the beginning of the season, they're going to be that much more ahead of the curve.

"And they've got good players around them now. On both sides of the line. Hopefully, by the time we line up in Jacksonville we're going to look the way we want to look."

Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or mklis@denverpost.com


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Line of protection
Besides injuries and youth, the Broncos' offensive line has a new coach in Clancy Barone, who is teaching a new power- pull blocking style. NFL reporter Mike Klis analyzes the Broncos' top blockers:

LT Ryan Clady: The all-pro lineman is nursing a surgically repaired left knee. He could return to the practice field around Sept. 1 and play in opener Sept. 12.

OT Tyler Polumbus: Increased weight from 300 pounds to 312. Shifting from right tackle, where he was eight-game starter in relief of Ryan Harris last year, to left tackle because of Clady's knee injury. Figures to make the team as a swing tackle.

OT D'Anthony Batiste: Replaced Polumbus at No. 1 left tackle last week. Head coach Josh McDan- iels hinted Batiste is stronger.

LG Seth Olsen: Fourth-round draft pick in 2009 who seemed to be in position to start this year until the Broncos drafted Zane Beadles in the second round.

LG Zane Beadles: A rookie who played left tackle his final two years at Utah, but projects to a power-pulling guard.

C J.D. Walton: Third-round rookie from Baylor has been taking all of the first-team reps since May. Plays with the kind of mean streak McDaniels loves.

LG-C Russ Hochstein: This is a case where versatility can hurt a guy. Hochstein is a capable starter at left guard and center. But Beadles is a left guard and Walton is a center, and it makes sense for Hochstein to wait and fill in where first needed.

G-C Eric Olsen: Sixth-round pick from Notre Dame could be a practice-squad candidate.

RG Chris Kuper: The offensive line's only returning starter not coming off a surgery. He was rewarded with a five-year contract extension. Then he yanked his ankle pretty good.

G Stanley Daniels: At 320 pounds, and with two years of practice-squad experience, the Broncos are giving him a good look as a swing guard.

RT Ryan Harris: A third-year starter. The Broncos were 6-0 in 2009 until he suffered a fractured big right toe that eventually needed surgery; 2-8 after his injury.

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_15725608
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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[QUOTE=oubronco;2896318]Broncos O-line starts with a big Q


The temporary replacements for the 325-pound Clady are Tyler Polumbus, an eight-game starter at right tackle last year who is up to 312 pounds this year, and D'Anthony Batiste, who took his 314 pounds to the first-team offense for the first time last week.

Zane Beadles, a rookie left guard, and rookie center J.D. Walton each weigh 305 pounds. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels decided he'd rather have big and strong kids than the grizzled likes of Casey Wiegmann and Ben Hamilton, neither of whom could crack 290 if they lived on a steady daily diet of spaghetti at midnight.

"They're young guys, so they're going to make their mistakes," Dumervil said of Beadles and Walton. "But they both have got that junkyard dog in them. That's a good thing. As long as you've got some dog in you, you can coach that other stuff."

Kuper, a four-year starter, is listed at 303 pounds but there's no telling how much he weighs now that he's carrying around a fresh $28 million contract.

Harris, at 300 pounds, is the lightest of the 15 offensive linemen on the camp roster. Let that crush the consciousness one more time 300 pounds and the smallest of the bunch.

Missing from this training camp are the classic, all-pro confrontations between Clady and Dumervil.

"We all know what Ryan can do," Polumbus said. "But we've got five guys out there trying to work together. Who's lining up come Jacksonville, who knows?"

Clady should be there. The rehab on his surgically repaired left knee is coming along well.

Which leads to one last question regarding the offensive line: If Clady were here taking on Dumervil in camp, would there be so much concern? Yes, Beadles and Walton are rookies, but in 2005 the New England Patriots won the AFC East with McDaniels as their rookie offensive coordinator and Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur as starting rookie offensive linemen.

"Think about Ryan coming back, and you have Kupe and Harris on the other side," McDaniels said. "Yeah, we may have youth at left guard and center, but the snaps they're going to get between now and the beginning of the season, they're going to be that much more ahead of the curve.

"And they've got good players around them now. On both sides of the line. Hopefully, by the time we line up in Jacksonville we're going to look the way we want to look."


First news I have seen about Clady
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:11 PM   #3
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Don't care if the Pats won their division in '05 with 2 rookies starting, Denver starting 2 on the OL scares the **** out of me.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:27 PM   #4
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Trial by fire.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:33 PM   #5
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I think this will be the Achilles heal of the 2010 Edition of the Broncos. With all these question marks on the O-line, we probably won't be running the ball well, and Orton will be running for his life. God, I hope the stars line up for us as the season starts.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:54 AM   #6
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i ain't scared. i do think we're in for some interesting play calling with this weakness in mind though.
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Old 08-11-2010, 01:31 AM   #7
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:02 AM   #8
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RT Ryan Harris: A third-year starter. The Broncos were 6-0 in 2009 until he suffered a fractured big right toe that eventually needed surgery; 2-8 after his injury.
I don't know why I never realized this before. Holy ****.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:14 AM   #9
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I don't know why I never realized this before. Holy ****.
Yep. I think this is a BIG reason why Orton failed down the stretch (not to mention that Orton himself suffered an injury). We need Harris back.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:26 AM   #10
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It will be interesting to see how this line holds up with all of the injuries and youth.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:31 AM   #11
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i ain't scared. i do think we're in for some interesting play calling with this weakness in mind though.
It was a huge weakness last season and we didn't cover it up at all with play calling. The days of Shanahan are over. We better just hope they hold up. Do you not remember running up the middle all the time last season even though the middle of the line collapsed every play? What do you think McDaniels will do if the line is weaker? Throw even more screens? Run into the weakest point a few more times?
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhns View Post
It was a huge weakness last season and we didn't cover it up at all with play calling. The days of Shanahan are over. We better just hope they hold up. Do you not remember running up the middle all the time last season even though the middle of the line collapsed every play? What do you think McDaniels will do if the line is weaker? Throw even more screens? Run into the weakest point a few more times?
The oline isn't going to be weaker, not in the middle. Younger yes, weaker no. If the Broncos can manage to go 4-4 through the first half of the season, by the second half of the season the oline should be gelled.

Last year is over. You still don't get it jhns. Last year was new for everyone including the front office, coaching staff and players. This year is different because the vet players are familiar with the schemes. For the oline, it's as much about "want to" as it is about knowing their assignments. The oline has to "want it" more than the opposing dline. You can't coach "want". That is something every offensive lineman is born with, that is, the ability to impose your will over the opposing defensive line.
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