ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At this point last year, center Manny Ramirez's fate was unclear. Ryan Lilja, Dan Koppen, Steve Vallos and J.D. Walton all filtered through the Broncos' facilities at some point during the 2013 offseason, making Ramirez's status seem ambiguous.
Despite the competition, Ramirez said he played like he was the starter every single day.
"Even if you're not the No. 1, even if you're No. 2, that's your mindset," Ramirez said. "You have to make sure that you're ready to go no matter what the situation is. I was just making sure that I was prepared for whatever the situation might present."
Playing with such intensity earned him the spot in front of quarterback Peyton Manning, and for the first time in his career he started every game of the season. After being a part of the line that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL last season — 20 — he now feels that center is "my position to lose."
His comfort level improves each time he steps up to the ball.
"The communication part is even better," Ramirez said. "It's still some of the same guys on the line, just being moved around a little bit. But as far as feeling comfortable, it feels good to be able to know that I'm in there right now but, at the same time, as far as being comfortable, that I'm okay. I'm still focused, keeping my head down and working hard, trying to improve every day."
Ramirez being the consistent anchor on the line is valuable for the line, especially as linemen shuffle positions. Orlando Franklin is working at left guard to take Zane Beadles' spot, Ryan Clady is returning from a foot injury and Chris Clark is competing at right tackle.
Ramirez said he loves the offense — particularly its tempo. It reminds him of when he was at Texas Tech when he and the Red Raiders led the country with 398.9 passing yards per game in his four seasons. He said offenses that are able to move fast and snap the ball quickly are "fun to me."
As he gets more comfortable at center, so does Manning. Ramirez said he sees Manning getting even more comfortable with his teammates and trusting that the offensive line can make adjustments based on the defense.
Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said having last season under his belt is beneficial for Ramirez's development.
"That experience last year was big for him and I think him moving forward, the more looks he sees in every day working with him and going through the procedure is only going to make him better and he's really made a lot of strides and it's good to see him develop the way he has," Gase said