ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Monday after practice, Head Coach John Fox confirmed what many already knew -- Dan Koppen is out for the season, and Manny Ramirez is the team's starting center.
"Manny played a lot of football for us a year ago with the loss of Chris Kuper as well as J.D. Walton, who are two people that are still on our football team that we are still nursing back to health," Fox said. "We always hate losing people for the season, but we will march on."
Fox said the Broncos "feel good about who we have lined up," as Ramirez started 11 games for the club last season and played in a career-high 15 contests. In that span, he was penalized just three times.
Last season, Ramirez was pushed into the starting lineup due to an injury to right guard Chris Kuper. He said it's a circumstance no player ever hopes for.
"You all know Coach Fox's philosophy: 'Next man up,' and that's the case again," Ramirez said. "I'm just going to do anything I can to help out the team. I continue to pray for Koppen and his injury. Never wish anything like that for anybody, but things happen in the game. Just keep your prayers with him."
Ramirez said he'll do "whatever it takes" to get the job done, and he's already hard at work to make sure he perfects his timing with quarterback Peyton Manning.
Playing beside Koppen last year was helpful, as well.
"I think we have a pretty good understanding (of one another)," Ramirez said of Manning. "We communicate; as you all know, he loves to communicate a lot. So having open ears and just being willing to listen and absorb it—his knowledge. And playing with Koppen the past two years, the experience that he has has really helped that a lot. Sitting behind him and watching him has helped me a lot."
One added benefit for the seventh-year pro -- he'll get to play alongside his former college roommate, Louis Vasquez.
"Louis, we're like brothers -- we have that comfort level," Ramirez said. "I look at it as a blessing to be able to play at this level with your brother right next to you. So we're looking forward to it."