ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --
During the 2011 season, the Broncos offensive line plowed the way for 2,632 rushing yards -- a franchise best.
Leading that unit in his first season with the Broncos was offensive line coach Dave Magazu, who joined the Broncos from Carolina after John Fox was named Denver's head coach in January.
This year, the offensive line returns all five starters from a year ago, when the group became the only offensive line unit in the league to open every regular-season game with the same five individuals.
Coach Magazu sat down with DenverBroncos.com to talk about the progress of the group, the importance of continuity on the offensive line and how signing Demaryius Thomas changes things for his position group.
How important is it to have continuity on the offensive line?"I told those guys when I first got here – there's got to be a growing period. We have to grow together. I think if you watched our progress throughout the season, we improved, but we didn't improve enough. Until you win that last game of the year, you're not good enough. That's what we've been talking about. What are we going to do to make us a better football team and a better offense?"
How did Orlando Franklin improve throughout his rookie season last year?"I think he's head and shoulders a better player today than he was obviously at this time last year, since he wasn't even here. He got a lot of experience. One of the greatest things that he has going for him is obviously he has ability and he's a good football player, but he gets to practice against some real pass rushers every day. The great thing about having those opportunities is you can experiment and you can try some different things and we can take the next step. You always have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run and so now he's getting a little bit more comfortable. He's not afraid to experiment a little bit, especially in practice. If you don't experiment with different things in practice, you're not going to use it in a game. But once you feel comfortable with something and you've practiced it, it the opportunity to use it in a game you feel a little more comfortable."
How does practicing against pass rushers like Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller help the offensive line?"No question. I would hope we get to the point where we're making them better and they're making us better. It's not about winning practice -- it's about practicing to win. You can't just take your one or two best pass sets or pass rush moves. You have to develop your repertoire and that's where you learn how to do that, in practice."
What has Chris Kuper's leadership meant to the offensive line?"(Kuper) is a good football player. He's very smart, very intelligent. He's tough as (heck). He doesn't have to lead by being a yeller or a screamer. He's a true professional and that's how he leads the best - just by going out and acting like a professional and he's a true pro."
What is the chemistry like among the offensive linemen?"I think we have a good group of guys from the last guy to the top guy. I think everybody is focused on improving and being a dominant player and unit today. Not tomorrow, not later. We have a little bit of a sense of urgency of, 'Let's do it now. Let's not talk about last year. Let's not project or wish.' The bottom line is we'll work hard and try to get better every day so we can win that last game of the year."
What has the signing of Peyton Manning meant for the offensive line?"There's a confidence factor. There's a guy that's been into battle. He's got a lot of experience and he paints a great picture for the offensive line and I think when you paint that picture you're eliminating a lot of the guess work of what we're doing, who's who in the defense. The communication has been outstanding and I think it will continue to get better. Whether it's a walk-through right now or it's a live team period, every rep is important and it's making a difference."
What does it mean to have an Pro Bowler like Ryan Clady at left tackle?
"I thought he played well last year. Obviously he's been to the Pro Bowl. Going to the Pro Bowl is a nice thing, and that was last year. He's a sharp football player, very fluid athlete. He knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and we're spending a lot of time trying to improve his weaknesses and he's really done a great job. He's bought into everything. I'm excited to see him continue to improve also." What did you see out of Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton in their second season?"Yeah, I think all of those guys have stepped up a little bit. It's like anything else – when you're a young player, there are growing pains and some scars. You learn from scars. The game is important to those guys. They don't want to be satisfied and they want to be the best player they can because they know s an individual if you become a better player, your unit is a better group and then if your unit is a better group you're better as an offense and if you're better as an offense your team is better. Whether it's defense, offense, or special teams, everybody gets better."