The Broncos' offensive line has held their own through the first two games of the season, despite missing some key players due to injury.
Because of General Manager George Paton's emphasis on filling in the offensive line with versatile players that can play multiple positions, the group has maintained a high level of play even without right guard Quinn Meinerz and right tackle Billy Turner, The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman noted.
"We have a lot to get better at in terms of cleaning up penalties and pre-snap penalties, but in all reality, we've had two really good rushing games and we've got to continue to build off the rushing that we've had," left guard Dalton Risner told Newman. "Our protection's been really good too, even though here and there we've had some negative runs and a few sacks. But in terms of starting the season, with Billy not being able to go in yet and Quinn battling an early injury, we've done really well."
Finishing in the red zone has been an area for improvement, but Newman pointed to the run game as a strength that will only continue to flourish in the coming weeks. Running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III have 118 and 105 rushing yards on the season, respectively, and their success is in large part due to quality blocking from the offensive line.
"Our run game has been electric the last two weeks," left tackle Garett Bolles told Newman. "We've just got to continue to stick with it because it's hard for people to bring those guys down, and that's going to wear [on defenses] throughout the season."
Newman explained that the unit could get extra reinforcements soon; Meinerz practiced on Thursday in a limited capacity for the first time since his injury against Seattle, and Turner, who was also a limited participant on Thursday, told Newman that his recovery is going in the right direction.
Sunday's matchup against the 49ers will be a difficult test for this group, Newman noted, as elite edge rusher Nick Bosa consistently disrupts the backfield. If Denver's offensive line can limit Bosa's impact, it will be a testament to this unit's strength.
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While he is still looking for his first touchdown of 2022, Williams is already earning recognition as an elite running back in the league. NFL.com’s Maurice Jones-Drew — who led the NFL in rushing yards in 2011 — named Williams a top-15 running back heading into Week 3.
"The Broncos' offense had to mostly rely on the run game, and Williams delivered," Jones-Drew wrote. "With a solid outing vs. Houston — 15 carries for 75 yards (a robust 5 yards per tote) — he continues to make the most of his touches in a shared backfield."