The Broncos' offensive line has seen plenty of movement through the first half of the season, and Denver will start another new combination of players up front against the Titans after center Lloyd Cushenberry III was placed on injured reserve.
Graham Glasgow filled in for Cushenberry during the Broncos' Week 8 game against the Jaguars, and he is expected to get the start at center against Tennessee. Left guard Dalton Risner said Thursday that playing next to a different center is an adjustment, but Glasgow has slotted in nicely.
"It's definitely a different dynamic," Risner said. "When you have a guy like Cush and you work with him for a long time, and [then you] have a guy like Glasgow hop in, it's definitely a lot of new, right? I mean, you've got to get used to him, but when you've got a guy like Graham, he does such a great job. He makes sure that we're rolling on the snap count, making sure he's great with his calls. He's a really intelligent player, love playing next to him, so it's definitely different, but it's great when you've got a guy like Graham that can step in and kind of make that transition easier."
Having consistency on the offensive line is important for developing chemistry, but Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten noted that, with rare exception, every offensive line experiences injuries during a season and has to rotate other players in. The Broncos gave reps to many different combinations of offensive linemen during the offseason and training camp, and that preparation will prove useful for the Broncos in the final nine games.
"The chemistry part of it — it's a lot of rhythm, it's a lot of timing up front," Outten said. "Not only with just coming off the ball, but it's also the communication portion of it. A guy like Graham has done a great job with just being at every position internally throughout the entire offseason when he got back from his injury. He's just gotten better. He's a physical, tough, smart guy, and that's exactly what you're looking for at center. We're going to lean on him a lot. We're going to lean on both those guys inside — the guards and tackles. The combinations — you could always say — it's very rare where an offensive line goes through an entire season without getting injured. You just got to find the right rhythm and the concepts that complement that. You can't just run concepts that don't match your unit up front. You got to be smart with that as well."
The Broncos' offense looks to make a leap in the second half of the season, and it could hinge on the success of the offensive line.
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With his stellar play so far in 2022, cornerback Pat Surtain II continues to receive high praise from national NFL analysts. NBC Sports' Chris Simms named Surtain the top cornerback in the NFL right now, beating out the Jets' Sauce Gardner, the Eagles' Darius Slay, the Cowboys' Trevon Diggs and the Dolphins' Xavien Howard.
"[Surtain] is amazing," Simms said. "They really could probably play him in man-to-man situations more than they do. ... Surtain has got incredible knowledge of the defense and where his weaknesses are and understanding how to play zone coverage, and again, the other part of him like I talked about with Trevon Diggs is, it doesn't matter what you are. Small receiver, he's got the quicks and the speed to mess with them. Bigger receiver, DK Metcalf, he can hang in there and bump them and stay right with them.
"And the thing he's better at than I think maybe I even gave him credit for coming out, his top-end speed is better than I thought coming out of Alabama. He's got that ability, a little like Diggs does and Xavien Howard, to run with the receiver, and I don't have to run full-speed in case you put the brakes on and run some out route or comeback route. ... It's just incredibly clean across the board, it really is."