ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There are other injuries at other positions that would cripple the Broncos more than losing center
But given that Koppen was already the second option at the position after
Walton will be out until at least late October after undergoing a second surgery on his fractured right ankle. Given the setback he endured in recovering from the injury incurred last Sept. 30, the Broncos can't realistically stake their hopes on a successful and quick recovery, and likely have to regard Walton's possible return as a bonus that potentially provides a stretch-run boost.
Besides, the Broncos play nearly half the regular season before Walton could play, so they need a viable replacement.
Among the in-house candidates,
Other possibilities include 2012 fourth-round pick
The free-agent market has been as thin as a supermodel since the Broncos signed Koppen last month.
Ex-Bengals center Jeff Faine is unsigned, but he hasn't been the same player since tearing his triceps muscle in 2010 when he was with the Buccaneers, and ranked last (36th of 36th) in Pro Football Focus' rankings of centers who took at least 25 percent of their team's snaps in 2012.
Former Titans center Eugene Amano went unsigned after missing all of 2012 with a torn triceps muscle. He had his ups and downs during his time as a starter, although he improved in 2011, his second season as a full-time starter there after working most of his first six seasons at guard.
Another name of note is former Chiefs center Ryan Lilja, who announced his intention to retire last December. According to The Kansas City Star, the Chiefs and Lilja discussed bringing him back in the spring, but tabled the notion while he recovered from toe and knee injuries. Lilja was a Colts guard from 2004-09.
Another possibility lies in what the Broncos did last year when they first signed Koppen: waiting until after the final cut to a 53-man roster. The Broncos didn't add him until Sept. 11, and he was ready to contribute extensively 19 days later. But that doesn't solve the problem of having a starter for the beginning of the season. The Broncos will examine the waiver wire after cuts, but that would likely only be for depth.