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Mason's Mailbag: Depth on display

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The Broncos' offensive line played its cleanest game of the season vs the Chargers with two backups and Connor McGovern playing center. Elijah Wilkinson especially had an outstanding game so ... where did that come from?

-- Jose Borrero

It's just good player development. While McGovern has started 14 of the last 15 games at right guard before moving over to center in the wake of Matt Paradis' injury, Billy Turner and Wilkinson had to do most of their development on the practice field.

The Broncos were patient with all three of them. McGovern was inactive throughout his rookie season and did not start until Week 13 of the 2017 campaign -- his second year. Denver claimed Turner off waivers in October 2016, and he spent the last 11 weeks of the 2017 regular season on injured reserve after breaking his hand. Wilkinson has been a Bronco for his entire pro career -- first on the practice squad to start last season, and since then on the 53-man roster.

"It was nice to have them come together that fast and work together," President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway told us on Orange and Blue 760 on Tuesday. "Giving up no sacks was tremendous, also -- Case [Keenum] did a nice job of getting rid of the ball a couple of times -- but it was a tremendous job by them up front."

With more film on McGovern at center and Turner and Wilkinson at the guard spots, future opponents will scheme to their strengths and weaknesses, so they will have to adjust. But the Broncos would not have invested so much time in their development if they did not believe they were capable of performances like what they delivered against the Chargers.

Why don't the Broncos ever play on Thanksgiving?

-- @bob_j

It's not that they don't ever play; the Broncos have played 11 times on the holiday, going 4-7. They just haven't played any such games recently.

Their last Thanksgiving Day game came in 2009, when they defeated the New York Giants 26-6. This is also the only Thanksgiving Day game in Denver since the AFL-NFL merger; the Broncos hosted games on the holiday in 1962 and 1963, losing both.

In the 2000s, the Broncos played four Thanksgiving Day games: the aforementioned win over the Giants, a 19-10 loss at Kansas City in 2006 and two wins over the Cowboys at Texas Stadium: 24-21 in 2005 and 26-24 in 2001. With those wins, the Broncos have won three of their last four Thanksgiving Day games after losing six of their first seven.

Mase, are Bronco fans going to see Sunshine this season? How goes the rehab?

-- Fred Waiss

Jordan Taylor is doing well in his rehabilitation from two hip surgeries, but he did not progress to the point that he would be available this season, so he will remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list for the rest of the year. 

The Broncos had three weeks from Taylor's first practice last month to activate him, but his progress to that point prevented it, so they shut him down for the year.

The Chargers-Broncos game in Week 17 is scheduled to be on CBS. The game should be on NBC as part of Sunday Night Football. I expect the Denver Broncos to win the game, too. #AskMase

-- Mahfus Uddin

That's well and good, but there are five other games between now and then. Further, when you've accumulated six losses in your first nine games, you do not have the luxury of looking ahead or even thinking about the playoffs, a point that Head Coach Vance Joseph made Thursday.

"Playoffs? Come on. We’ve won one game and we’ve got small focus," Joseph said. "To talk playoffs right now, with our football team, is unfair. We’ve got to work every day to get better and better every day and play our best ball to win the game on Sunday. We’ll see.

 "We’ve talked about having small-picture focus but big-picture awareness. We know what’s out there. Everyone reads the stuff, but right now, we’ve got to focus on Pittsburgh."

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