After the Broncos placed offensive lineman Billy Turner on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Tuesday, questions remain about how the offensive line will shape up.
There should be no doubts about left tackle Garrett Bolles' spot in the starting five, and center Lloyd Cushenberry III seems likely to start for the third consecutive season. The remaining three spots are unsettled, with several players competing to fill right tackle and two guard positions. Tom Compton, Calvin Anderson and Ben Braden all took snaps at right tackle during offseason training, while Turner should also be a major factor upon his return from PUP. Dalton Risner, Quinn Meinerz and Graham Glasgow are among the competitors for the two guard spots.
While Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett did not reveal a timeline on Tuesday for naming the team's starting five, he stressed the importance of having depth in the unit and preparing them to be flexible throughout the season.
"Offensive line is very, very interesting," Hackett said. "For me, I look at my past couple seasons at the Green Bay Packers. You go in with that starting five, but you're going to need everybody … I think [General Manager] George [Paton] has done an amazing job of bringing guys in here that can play multiple positions, and for us, we train them all over the place, because you never know what's going to happen. You look at the Day 1 starting five compared to Week 17, you don't know what it's going to be like, but you need to be sure everybody's prepared and everybody's able to play together."
Hackett noted that the offensive linemen have adjusted to the coaching staff's new scheme, and he praised their versatility and willingness to take on new roles.
"The guys in the offseason coming in here, put in a new system, the outside-zone world, you didn't know exactly how it was going to play out, how they were going to fit into it, but those guys have bought in. They're starting to like it, and there's a lot of guys that have stepped up and just been great."
As training camp begins on Wednesday, the offensive line's work will continue.
Below the Fold
Paton and Hackett have taken inspiration from the Colorado Avalanche's Stanley Cup championship run. They both attended games during the Final, and Paton pointed out several aspects of the experience that impressed him.
"I'd never been to a playoff hockey game, and I will just tell you this: We were blown away by the game-day environment," Paton said. "The fans, and just all the athletes on the ice, the way they played and shared, and the humility after, listening to the interviews of the players, it really blew us away, and we were trying to take notes on some of the game-day atmosphere. We love our atmosphere, [but] it was a really cool experience."