ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –The Broncos' offensive line returns all five starters from the 2012 opener – all 1,548 pounds of them.
If that wasn't enough beef to pave the way for the team's stable of running backs and to protect 12-time Pro Bowler Demaryius Thomas at quarterback, the front office added 6-5, 335-pound guard Louis Vasquez to the mix.
"(It's) a big, heavy group," said defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who knows a thing or two about size at 6-5, 290 pounds himself. "Big, heavy group up front. Big, heavy guards make the tackles even better. (Those) inside three are big. So I think that's a nice, stout, big inside. The guard and center, they're big up front. They're definitely big up front."
The addition of Vasquez not only adds girth, as he weighs in as the heaviest player in the offensive line room as well as the tallest interior linemen, but also adds a player who has started all 54 games that he's played in the NFL over the first four years of his career.
Beadles, who isn't so small himself at 6-4, 305 pounds, called Vasquez one of the biggest people he's ever met.
"There is that side of things," Beadles said of Vasquez's size. "And he had a great four years in San Diego. He's a good guy and is really starting to learn the system and fit in with us. I'm excited to see what he can do and what he can bring to us—physicality and that sort of thing that will be good for us."
Vasquez gives Denver three guards with extensive NFL experience, which will lead to a tough competition throughout the offseason for the two starting roles.
"A lot of guys, we've come up together and played a lot of time together," Beadles said. "We are relatively young, but have a lot of experience. I see that as a good thing. Competition is competition. That's what we live with every single day and the best players are going to come out at the end."
Beadles is coming off a Pro Bowl season and has played all 48 possible regular-season games, starting 46 of them -- including all 32 in the past two seasons.
There's also Chris Kuper, who has opened 78-of-86 regular-season games in his career. Ankle injuries limited him to seven games and five starts in 2012, but he had started all 64 games he played in the four years prior to last season.
"I think we have some great players, so whatever happens, I think we are going to be really deep on that side of the ball and in that position group," Beadles said. "It is too early to tell anything—guys are working hard to get back and working hard to be ready to go come training camp. All we can really worry about is going out there and putting our best out every single day and let the chips fall where they may."
The offensive line is a close-knit unit with three of the five starters – Beadles, center J.D. Walton and right tackle Orlando Franklin – all drafted by the team in 2010 or 2011. Beadles and Walton are entering their fourth NFL season this year while Vasquez is going into his fifth, Clady his sixth and Kuper as the elder statesman of the room entering his eighth year in the NFL.
All of those players with the exception of Vasquez were drafted by the Broncos.
"We have added a few new pieces, but as a whole and the core of what we have on the offensive side of the ball definitely picked up where we left off," Beadles said. "We are going to tweak things every single year—every team does—but the core of things and really understanding each other is there."
The familiarity between the members of the offensive line will be especially important this year as the team gets ready to pick up the pace on offense at times.
That means being in good enough physical shape to move the 1,500-or-so pounds that will be on the field at any given time down the field and up to the line of scrimmage. "We don't have to run as far (as skill position players)," Beadles said. "We just have to run into people. It depends what is going on in the series, too. For us, run blocking is more tiring than pass blocking is a lot of times. The only thing we can do is make sure we're in great shape and make sure we're ready to do our best with it."