ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Ben Garland, now in his sixth year in the NFL, finally has a shot at earning a role on the team that would fulfill a major goal he's had since finishing college.
It's been a strange journey to this point, especially since his NFL vision out of college probably didn't include switching to the other side of the ball. Regardless, the Air Force Academy graduate has adapted to the offensive line and with plenty of opportunities along the line for the Broncos' corps of linemen, he has his eyes on making the most of this chance as a guard.
"I have the capability, I've just got to make sure I put it together and stay consistent," he said of his chance to earn a starting role on Wednesday. "When I was very first signed as a rookie, that's all I wanted. I wanted to start for a team, help participate and really contribute out there, eventually become a Pro Bowler and that's my goal."
The layout of that journey has changed since Garland's arrival at Dove Valley, most recently with the coaching change and implementation of a new zone-blocking scheme. Coupled with free-agency departures from Orlando Franklin and Will Montgomery, an estimated three positions are wide open for competition.
With all the competition—"Not only do we have some great draft picks but we got some great free agents in the offseason, so it's going to be thick competition and we're going to have a great offensive line," Garland said—he knows that no spot is guaranteed.
"I'm going to bring my lunchpail and I'm going to work and every single game I'm going to work as hard as I can and hopefully I can make this team better because of it," he added.
As he learns the new scheme, calls, opposing defenses and their relation to the scheme's calls, Garland's mobility is something he sees as a good fit in the new system.
"I love the zone scheme, just more lateral movement, [being] quick, being smart and just being able to move quickly and be able to the cut-off blocks on the back side," he said.
Part of that change has been a lot of studying, and that's been for everyone. Garland said that reviewing old tape from that scheme, and seeing how it can apply to them.
"You do a lot of just seeing the way they ran it," he said. "It's obviously not the exact same but you can see the way the offensive linemen did certain schemes or certain footwork or different techniques and apply it to your game if it helps and if not, just see what didn't work for them."
With a chance to push himself to new levels, Ben Garland is thrilled to have the chance to get closer to his dream and to help the Broncos' own the trenches.