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In blocking, Ryan Clady ready to zone out

Posted Jan 26, 2015

With a full offseason to put his foot injury behind him and the full-time return of zone-blocking, Clady is poised for a big 2015.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last week, Ryan Clady's past became his present -- and his future.

As the linchpin left tackle headed to Arizona to start in the 2015 Pro Bowl following his fifth selection to the NFL's all-star game in his seven-year career, Gary Kubiak took the Broncos' reins as their 15th head coach. His arrival augurs a return to the zone-blocking scheme that defined Denver's offense for a generation, up to Clady's rookie season of 2008.

"That's what (former head coach Mike) Shanahan drafted me to do, and I'm good at it," Clady said. "So I'm definitely down for the zone scheme."

Before that, Clady spent Pro Bowl week practicing and playing for Team Carter, which was coached by the Baltimore Ravens' staff. That included quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison, Clady's first position coach in the NFL with the Broncos in 2008 and 2009, who followed Kubiak to Baltimore last year and returned to the Broncos Monday.

"He definitely helped me learn the game of football better," Clady said of Dennison. "Just learning the game and cutting out a lot of mental mistakes. That's one thing he got on me a lot about, is just mental mistakes. I had that ability; I just had to put it on the field.

"He's a great offensive line coach … He definitely got my technique right and my footwork and stuff like that."

Kubiak, Dennison and Ravens offensive line coach Juan Castillo installed a zone-blocking scheme in Baltimore last year, and it helped turn running back Justin Forsett into a Pro Bowler and helped Joe Flacco get settled and finish with arguably his best professional season.

Even Broncos who haven't been in this offense, like running back C.J. Anderson, are excited about the tweaks to come.

"I just can't wait to get to work, to be honest," Anderson said.

It's a scheme Clady can't wait to see again.

"I love it," he said.

And when the offseason work begins, Clady expects to be back to 100 percent -- finally, following a campaign in which he played through soreness that followed the Lis franc injury he suffered in Week 2 of the 2013 season.

Clady's persistence made his starting slot in the Pro Bowl all the more impressive, given what he endured to get there.

"I was struggling with it early in the season," Clady said. "I just tried to stay on top of it with treatment and stuff. It's the hardest injury I've ever had. I'm a year and a half from the first surgery now, and I still feel a little soreness here and there."

Fortunately for him and the Broncos, he expects the worst to be behind him.

"It's definitely better," Clady said, "and this next year I'm just excited to get a full offseason, I don't have to rehab, and just come back 100 percent."

And for full-time zone-blocking work, the Broncos need an agile left tackle -- just like Clady has been, and plans to be again with good health.

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