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Gray Matter Mailbag: Clady and Mobile QBs

Posted Sep 20, 2013

This week's mailbag answers fan-submitted questions on Ryan Clady, his replacement and the team's preparedness for a mobile quarterback.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The big news at Dove Valley this week was the fact that three-time Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady's season is over. He suffered a Lisfranc joint tear in his left foot against the Giants, and it will require surgery.

Questions about Clady -- and his replacement -- lead off this week's Gray Matter mailbag. So let's get to it.

There's no doubt that the locker room was saddened to hear that Clady was placed on injured reserve. Head Coach John Fox said the team knew it was a Lisfranc injury, but was waiting to hear from specialists to see if it required surgery. When it did, the decision was made to put him on IR. Peyton Manning called it "disappointing" not only for Clady but for the team. However, I wouldn't describe the group as "worried." The fact that Clady missed so much time in the offseason into the preseason with a shoulder injury allowed Chris Clark to get a lot of reps with the first-team offensive line at left tackle. That will pay dividends if he's the man asked to step into Clady's shoes -- and all signs point to that scenario. Fox said the team has "great confidence" in Clark and Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu said Clark did an "outstanding job" in his time with the first-team during training camp and the preseason.

"It’s not like he’s going in unprepared or not knowing what’s going on," Magazu said. "So everybody should feel comfortable. Let’s go with the mentality of next guy up and let’s go to work.”

I can't say that definitively until the team takes the field Monday night, but like I said, all signs point to Clark. He was the team's starting left tackle for the majority of the offeseason, training camp and preseason. The team had enough confidence in him to give him a two-year contract extension earlier this week, and Manning said he has no doubt that "Chris will do a good job."

"I know he's excited about the opportunity and I know offensively we're excited to have him in there," Manning said.

I don't know if either team will necessarily be "easy" for the Broncos. As far as the Eagles, they'll have 10 days to prepare for the Broncos now that their Week 3 game is already completed. So that puts them at a bit of an advantage. And those two Chiefs games in a three-week span from Nov. 17 to Dec. 1 seem like they're going to be a lot of fun. I watched the game live last night, haven't gone back and looked at Game Rewind yet and really analyzed it, but it stood out that the Chiefs got so much pressure on Michael Vick. He was sacked five times and according to press box totals, Kansas City hit him seven times. That obviously helped force some of the turnovers -- two interceptions and a fumble from Vick as well as a fumbled snap by Jason Kelce.

So just talking about the Broncos' Week 4 matchup, since the Chiefs aren't on the slate until Week 11, it appears that getting early pressure on Vick will be key. And Denver will get a look at another mobile quarterback this Monday night with Oakland's Terrelle Pryor. Even though the offenses are different, that could be beneficial. Speaking of Pryor...

Good questions. Players addressed that yesterday in the locker room, and Fox said that it will be a "full test" for the defense. But while it's the first time the team will face a mobile quarterback this season, it's certanly not the first time this unit has ever faced one. So the players and coaches know that the key is, in a word, discipline.

Defensive backs can't be tempted to leave their man in coverage if Pryor gets out of the pocket. Defensive linemen can't become enamored with Pryor's elusiveness and abandon their run lanes with a player like Darren McFadden in the backfield.

"It puts a little bit more emphasis in your rush lanes, keeping the guy contained and not letting him get out of the pocket," Fox said.

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson even compared the Raiders' offense to the one the defense matched up with in practice when Tim Tebow was at quarterback. So he has plenty of experience with the importance of maintaining technique against a player like Pryor.

"At the end of the day that’s really all we have to do," he said. "Do our job.”

Thanks for this week's questions. Even if your question didn't make it in this week's mailbag, it could still appear in next week's. So, as always keep them coming for a chance to get your question answered on DenverBroncos.com. You can tweet them to me at @GrayCaldwell using the hashtag #GrayMatter.

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